Step 8.1: A Review of the DXF Commands and dialog-boxes

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Step 8.1: A Review of the DXF Commands and dialog-boxes


CAD'Line :

The special Line element we use to import Solids from CAD, and also import and display DXF-Drawings. Each Part we add to a model has one CAD-Line from its start-Point to its end-Point. You can also use the Part-Editor to add any number of CAD-Lines to Parts, and the Base-Part.

DXF file-type :

Drawing Exchange Format

DXF-Drawing :

The original drawing in your CAD

DXF-Element :

The element in the Assembly-Tree. It is a container for a DXF Drawing

DXF-Outline :

The efficient, but 'dumb', format with which we display a DXF-Drawing

DXF-Entity :

Arc and Line objects, but in the DXF-Outline format. It is possible to convert them to sketch-elements.

Summary of this Step

You can use a CAD-Line to show a DXF-Drawing.

Do these two steps to show a DXF-Drawing:

STEP 1: Do File menu > Open DXF file-type

STEP 2: Use the CAD-Line dialog-box to link the DXF-Drawing with the CAD-Line.


Before you save a drawing with the DXF file-type in your CAD:

Remove hidden lines

Explode all Blocks

Save the DXF drawing as 'Release 12', or as early as is available.


To add a DXF-Element to the Assembly-Tree

1.Do File menu > Open

In the Windows® File Open interface,

2.Set the File of type to DXF files (*.DXF)

3.Explore to find a drawing file with the DXF file-type - a DXF-Drawing

4.Click the Open button

There is now a DXF-Element in the Assembly-Tree

Do 1 to 4 again and again to open more files with the DXF file-type

The DXF-Element in the Assembly-Tree


In the Assembly-Tree:

The DXF-Element is represented by the AT-DXFElement element.

Top-Tip: rename the DXF-element to the name of the DXF-Drawing.

In the image to the left, there are three DXF-Elements:

DXF-Element : DXF

DXF-Element : Bottle-1Litre

DXF-Element : Bottle-0.5Litre

DXF-Element dialog-box

You can to edit the DXF-Element to change the:

DXF-Drawing that is referenced by the DXF-Element

Linear Units

To open the DXF-Element dialog-box:

1.Double-click a DXF-element in the Assembly-Tree

- or -

See How to open an elements dialog-box


DXF-Element dialog-box:

The Drawing file-name and the DXF-Drawing folder-path are in the boxes below.

If you want to change the DXF-Drawing: that is referenced by the DXF-Element:

1.Click the button

2.Find and select a different DXF-Drawing.

3.Click the Apply button ApplyButton-Small to update the link to the new DXF-Drawing.

DXF Units

The correct Linear-Units are those of the original DXF-Drawing.

1.Select (mm), (m), (cm), or (inch) that are those of the original DXF-Drawing

Of course, if you want to scale the DXF-Drawing, choose different units.

Close the dialog:

1.Click OK-tiny-13-17  

CAD-Line element

CAD-Lines in the Graphic-Area

CAD-Lines in the Graphic-Area

CAD-Line : in the Graphic-Area

CAD-Lines are Dark Green.

There is one CAD-LineRed-14-1b  from the start-Point to the end-Point of each new Part.

To add new CAD-LinesRed-14-2 to a Part, do Part-Editor: Geometry toolbar > Add CAD-Line

The Origin (0,0)Red-14-3 of a CAD-Lines is its start-Point (where you mouse-button-down).

The +X-axis direction is in the direction from its start-PointRed-14-3 to its end-PointRed-14-4.

When you add new CAD-Lines to a Part, you must remember the start-Point.

CAD-Line : in the Assembly-Tree

The CAD-Line is the only sketch-element to show in the Assembly-Tree.

The CAD-Line is a child to a Part.

CAD-Lines in a Part in the Assembly-Tree

CAD-Lines in a Part in the Assembly-Tree

CAD-Line dialog-box

When there is a DXF element in the Assembly-Tree, we can link the DXF drawing to a CAD-Line.

To open the CAD-Line dialog-box


Edit a CAD-Line

1.Double-Click a CAD-Line in the Part-Editor or the Mechanism-Editor.

- or -

1.Click a CAD-Line in the Assembly-Tree

2.Right-Click the CAD-Line in the Selection-Window

3.Click Edit element in the contextual-menu

or See How to open a dialog-box

The CAD-Line dialog-box is now open.

CAD-Line dialog-box : DXF tab

Select DXF Element


1.Click in the CAD-Line dialog-box > DXF tab

2.Click the Select DXF element down-arrowRed-14-1b

3.Select a DXF element from the list

When you select a DXF element, the DXF drawing shows immediately in the graphic-area.

Each DXF element in the Select DXF Element drop-down list boxRed-14-1b has two parts:

DXF element name | the element-name in the Assembly-Tree

DXF drawing name | the CAD file-name of the DXF-Drawing

Default Alignment of the DXF-Drawing with the CAD-Line

The DXF drawing aligns its 0,0 and positive X-axis with the start-Point and positive X-axis direction of the CAD-Line.

If you cannot see the DXF Drawing, try to find it.

Zoom-out if the DXF-Drawing is larger than the workspace.

Zoom-in if the DXF-Drawing is very small

Change the background color of the graphic-area.

Application Settings dialog > Graphics tab > Graphic colors | Background | Grey is frequently a good color.

to show/hide DXF Layers

to remove the DXF Drawing from the CAD-Line.

Align DXF to CAD-Line


The default alignment may be as you intend. However, you can edit the alignment of the DXF drawing with the CAD-Line.

To re-align the DXF drawing:

1.Click the Align DXF to CAD-Line separator

2.Click in the DXF Point at CAD-Line's Origin box - it should be orange.

3.Click a Point in the DXF drawing in the graphic-area

3.Click in the DXF Point at CAD-Line's X-axis box - it should be orange

4.Click a Point in the DXF drawing that you want to align with the X-axis of the CAD-Line.

When you click this Point the DXF Drawing will move to align with the CAD-Line.

To re-align the DXF Drawing with different Points, do 2 to 4 again.

Convert DXF to MD Lines and Arcs


The DXF Entities - Lines, Arcs, Circles, Points - that show in the graphic-area are 'dumb'.

You can convert these DXF Entities to sketch-elements.

To Convert a DXF Entity to a sketch-element:

1.Click in the DXF Entity box to make it active

2.Click a DXF Entity (a DXF-Line or DXF-Arc) in the DXF Drawing

3.As options:

Select a different Owner Part - usually, sketch-elements are on the same Part as the CAD-Line

Select Enable-Loop Select check-box, if you want to attempt to find a sketch-loop

Select Free or Locked Points check-box, if you want to fix the Points to the Owner-Part.

Optionally, edit the Merge Radius value to help make a sketch-loop with those DXF entities inside the radius

4.Click the button

Repeat 1 to 4 again and again, to convert more DXF Entities to MechDesigner sketch-elements.


Each time, you must click the DXF entity box to make it active again, before you click a DXF Entity in the graphic-area.

When you apply the 'Convert to MD Entities', the new sketch-elements are not linked with the CAD-Line; they are linked with the Part.

Therefore, you can use Clear DXF Link to remove the DXF File, but the sketch-elements stay with the Part.

DXF Filters: Display Elements toolbar> DXF-Outline and Display DXF Points

Two tools in the Display Filters toolbar:


Display DXF Outlines in the graphic-area.

To see a DXF Outline, make sure this icon is 'Toggled IN'. That is, the light bulb is 'ON'

Note: A DXF Outline is a DXF Drawing for display only.


Display DXF Points in graphic-area.

To see DXF Points, make sure this icon is 'Toggled IN'. That is, the light bulb is 'ON'.

When you use the CAD-Line dialog, you may select DXF Points to re-align the DXF Drawing with the CAD-Line.

Sometimes you need to toggle this off, and back on, to see the DXF Points. This is a bug that we are trying to resolve.