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Overview: DWG Conversion

Overview DWG Conversion

DWG files are widely used in the CAD industry, mostly with the filetype’s creator AutoCAD. However, the common CAD workflow requires drawing files to be passed between colleagues with different CAD programs, with varying CAD skills. This can involve converting the DWG drawing into other formats like DXF; or converting image files and PDFs into DWG. The conversion permutations are numerous.

Here are a few popular file conversions involving DWG; we’ll explain when and why someone would require such a file conversion, and offer a few pieces of advice for the process.

Convert DWG to DXF—and vice versa

The first most common scenario is to receive CAD drawing files in DXF file format. The DXF file format is a drawing interchange file, and is often used for sharing drawing data between CAD programs.

You can usually load DXF files directly into any CAD program, however, if your CAD program doesn’t support DWG, you’ll first need to convert it to DWG using a file converter like Scan2CAD. It’s an extremely simple process, which involves opening the DWG file in Scan2CAD and saving it as a DXF.

There are two other CAD file formats you may come across – DXB (a binary file used for plotting) and DWF (a publishing file format used to distribute designs over the Internet). The steps you’d follow during conversion are the same. Do note that the DWF cannot be fully recovered or converted into a standard DWG drawing. The converted output will not have the full prevision of the original.

When converting between CAD file types, you must check what CAD object types are supported by the conversion software. You’ll want to make sure it preserves all of the entities in your drawing, such as arcs, polylines, true type fonts, Bezier curves, embedded images, etc.. Also, don’t forget to define the treatment of these entities, for example, Scan2CAD allows you to choose whether to convert curves into Bezier splines or multiple arc segments, depending on your CAD software requirement.

Convert DWG to PDF

If you have a DWG drawing file that you’d like to share with your colleagues, collaborators or peers online, PDF files are the way to go. Everyone can view PDF files using free file viewers, and they’re easy to annotate. You can convert DWG to PDF from within AutoCAD. A feature that will come in handy during DWG to PDF conversion is the ability to include metadata (title, keywords, add bookmarks, etc.), so that your PDF is searchable and easily indexed.

Convert PDF to DWG

Let’s consider the reverse scenario – receiving PDF drawings. PDF files are read-only drawings, so it is not suitable format if the recipient needs to edit the drawing directly. In order to edit the file, you’d first have to convert it to DWG format.

The first question to consider when converting PDF files to DWG is whether the PDF file contain raster or vector information. Vector information is easy to extract, raster information less so. In the latter case, the conversion software has to convert images to vector format first, which brings us to the next conversion process.

Scanned PDF to DXF to CAD software for editing: PDF to DXF File Conversion

Lots of Scan2CAD’s users use DWG/DXF files as an intermediary

Convert image files to DWG

This file conversion is common when you have a hard-copy drawing (on paper!) that you’d like to digitise. By scanning and converting the sketch into DWG format, you can reuse elements of the drawing and save time producing the drawing from scratch. This is the hardest type of conversion of all (from the computer’s perspective), as it involves tracing the image and replicating it with new CAD entities. This process is called raster-to-vector conversion, or image tracing.

A few tips here: clean up the image as much as possible, experiment with a couple of vectorization settings, and check the vector output thoroughly after conversion. Head over to our ultimate guides to learn more about converting JPGPNG and TIFF files to DWG.

Scanned PDF to DXF to uploaded for editing with CAD software: PDF to DXF File Conversion

After converting the image to DWG, you can edit the vector using Scan2CAD’s complete suite of vector editing tools

Convert DWG to an earlier format

Say you receive a drawing from a vendor in DWG 2013 file format, but you’re running AutoCAD 2010 on your computer. To open the drawing, you’d need to convert the DWG file into an older version of DWG. Scan2CAD can handle convert DWG files between versions R2000 through R2014.


Scan2CAD can handle all of the file conversions mentioned above. It allows you to convert any file into DWG without the need for AutoCAD, and the resulting file can be used with AutoCAD or any CAD program just like any other drawing file.

You can try out Scan2CAD’s full range of features completely free for 14 days.

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