Delcam, makers of PowerSHAPE and other modelling tools for design and manufacturing, added an option to import PDF and PostScript into PowerShape by scripting command line calls to the PDF to DXF executable. This was accomplished using the FLY SDK. Once the PDF is imported into PowerSHAPE it is can be modified saving engineers valuable time otherwise spent redrawing.
Godwin Pumps manufactures and maintains a fleet of portable pumps and related equipment for use in construction dewatering, mining, drinking water supply and water/wastewater bypasses. Regularly, they receive mechanical parts drawings from vendors in PDF file format for their technical documentation. Their drafters regularly need to use these in AutoCAD for assembly into larger drawings. Since AutoCAD does not support PDF import, they needed a reliable and precise way to convert these PDF files into editable CAD drawings. After evaluating different solutions, they chose pdf2cad for its precision and ease of import into AutoCAD.
When a CAD drawing is saved or exported as a PDF file, it includes rich data about every object and every character. This is known as a vector PDF file. With these files, Visual Integrity software can be used to extract all of that information and render it as an editable drawing for use in CAD programs, Microsoft Visio or other drawing, illustration or presentation programs. Our software includes many special options which allow fine-tuning of the results or even compensation for information lost in the transition to PDF. For example, you can reconnect objects, separate layers and consolidate characters into words or lines.
Two things to watch out for when converting PDF are scanned PDF drawings and text issues.
Scanned Drawings – When a drawing is scanned and saved as PDF, our software will not create an editable drawing. It is a raster PDF file. The reason for this is that when the drawing was scanned, it was reduced to a flat image, like a photocopy or snapshot. Any information about the objects, lines and text is lost and there is nothing to to extract. The best conversion in this case, will be a DXF or WMF file containing the flat image which can then be used as a tracing layer. Other options include searching down a solution which will electronically “trace” the drawing (Google “raster to vector”) or using a service bureau to manually redraw it.
Test Issues – Sometimes, text will not convert. This is because the characters were not saved in the PDF file as characters. Instead, they were “plotted” as pen strokes. While an “E” looks like an “E” on screen, it is actually one vertical line and three horizontal lines. Once the character definition is lost in the PDF file, it can not be extracted. In this case, in order to edit the text, you can use what’s there as a guide to add new text to the fie and delete the graphical text. An easy way to know if you will get editable text during the conversion is to open the PDF file and try to select the text on screen. If you can select it, it will convert. If you can not select it, it just looks like text but is really a graphical object.
There are two types of PDF files – raster PDF and vector PDF. If your drawing will not convert, it is probably a scanned drawing saved as a raster PDF file. Unfortunately, there is no useful data in a raster PDF file for us to extract about the objects or text. When a drawing is scanned, it is reduced to a flat image, comparable to a snapshot or a photocopy. There’s nothing you can do except trace over it manually or with tracing software (raster-to-vector software). One way or another, you need to recreate it.
Our software is designed to convert vector PDF files. These files are created on computers using save, export, print-to-file, etc. These vector PDF files contain a rich data set and all the information we need to accurately extract the drawing and render it in a format Visio or AutoCAD, etc can digest.
For comparison sake, below is a snip of a raster PDF file at 500% where the characteristic “jagginess” or pixelation of raster PDF files can easily be seen. Below it is a snip of a vector PDF file which is remarkably smooth and clear even though it has also been zoomed to 500%. This visual method is a very easy and accurate way to determine if your PDF file is a raster or vector. Most people get both types of files so pdf2cad or pdf2picture may be useful for some of your files.
A sample vector PDF file at 500% – notice how smooth the lines are and how clear the text is. This type of file is best converted with vector-to-vector software like pdf2cad and pdf2picture.
When a CAD drawing is saved as a PDF file, it still retains information about layers that can be extracted. When converting, pdf2cad looks at color attributes, or other definitions in the PDF file, to create layers. If the option to recognize layers is turned on, pdf2cad gathers all objects with same color and put them on one layer. If the PDF file has three colors, the resulting DXF file will have three layers. It is then easy in AutoCAD to turn off a complete layer. This setting can be found in the Options->DXF tab of PDF FLY or simply under Options in pdf2cad.
The DXF file format does not define physical dimensions using absolute measurements from a ruler. Instead it uses units which the user defines. When you create a PDF file from a CAD drawing, it is transformed to paper/print dimensions and the meaning of the original CAD units are lost but the xy relationship remains. As a result, pdf2cad can not restore the intended dimensions but it does preserve the scale. This means that you can calculate a scaling factor to apply during the conversion to achieve the size drawing you want. By default, pdf2cad uses 1mm(0,03937 inch) in the PDF = 1 unit in the DXF. You can change this under the DXF Options tab. You can also scale the DXF after import into your CAD application.
Tip: Sometimes pdf2cad delivers better precision and more accurate coordinates if you change one of the values in your pdf2cad.ini file. Please try setting the ctm_scale to 10.0 instead of 1.0 (default) in the pdf2cad.ini file. If this does not help, please send us the file to diagnose.
If the PDF file contains characters, pdf2cad will convert them and map them as MTEXT objects in the DXF file. Unfortunately, when creating a PDF file from a CAD drawing, the text is not always retained. Sometimes it is “plotted” as pen strokes or turned into curves. When this happens, the character definition is lost. There is nothing that pdf2cad can do about this – it can only reproduce the curves (=SPLINES entities) in the DXF file. What looks like text in the original file may actually just be an object, comprised of a series of pen strokes that looks like a letter.
Tip: to see if the text in your PDF drawing is live and searchable, open the PDF file in Acrobat (Reader) and use the Text Select tool. If you cannot highlight any words, the text is already outlined to curves. If a PDF file contains searchable text, pdf2cad will reproduce it as MTEXT in the DXF file, preserving the fonts and styles.
Tip: To create a PDF with searchable text from AutoCAD, make sure to use TrueType fonts in the drawing and ensure that your printer driver is set to retain text as text instead of converting it to curves. Text can be lost in either of these two steps in creating a PDF file. See how to create a PDF file with searchable text from CAD Digest.
Tip: if your PDF files contain non-Roman font text (such as Chinese, Arabic or Cyrillic), or if the text looks garbled in the DXF output, try using the “Convert characters to curves” option in the General tab of the Options menu of pdf2cad. This outlines the text during conversion to ensure WYSIWYG rendering (not editable).
When you see a width dimension or what look like very fat lines in the drawing, you need to adjust the line width setting. It’s possible to turn off (reduce to zero) the line weight on the DXF Options tab or via Command Line. Change the value of the function zero_linewidth from 0 to 1 in the pdf2cad.ini, which is in the installation directory of pdf2cad and rerun the conversion. The installation directoryby default is C:Program FilesVisual Integritypdf2cad.
When the PDF file was created, the dashed lines were created as small individual line segments. Because of this attribute in the PDF file, pdf2cad converts them as small line segments in the DXF file. pdf2cad does not yet have an option to recognize these segments. as a line with a certain dashed-line attribute.
pdf2cad Mac – Accurate and Powerful.
pdf2cad Mac has been designed from the ground up to take advantage of the familiar Apple Mac OS X interface. At the same time, its power runs deep. This easy-to-use tool is built on top of the same proven and reliable PDF conversion engine that drives our enterprise and developer tools. It is destined to become an indispensable aid for Mac-based engineers who receive PDF drawings and need to convert them into editable CAD formats. Choose from three industry-standard vector formats for optimal reuse – DWG, DXF and HPGL.
Since 1995, pdf2cad has been relied on by engineers worldwide to instantly and accurately convert PDF files into fully editable CAD files. Now available for Mac OSX, pdf2ad conforms to Macintosh standards while containing all of the features and power expected from the first and best PDF to DWG conversion tool. With pdf2cad on your Mac, you’ll be able to unlock the objects, layers and text within PDF files and transform the into editable CAD drawings. Choose from DWG for AutoCAD, DXF, the industry’s CAD interchange format or plotting standard HPGL. Try it today. Available now through the Apple Mac App Store, IMSI/Design and direct from Visual Integrity.
- Convert PDF files into standard CAD interchange formats, DWG, DXF and HPGL
- Convert one file or multiple files using the built in batch mode
- Convert all pages or specify a page rage
- Intelligent object recognition
- Concatenates characters to form editable words and lines of text
- Add white space to page
- Rotate output by any degree
- Option to ignore text, images or paths during conversion
- Map fonts for high fidelity file match
- Scale page to match original dimensions of file
- Specify minimum line width
- Separates layers in CAD drawing based on color or other definitions
- Dashed and dotted lines as segments
- Saves all images as references
- Command-line version and API available for developers
- Expanded support for non-standard fonts
- Option to remove or outline hatches and fills
- Improved reporting on errors and warnings
- Streamlined interface for faster and easier conversions
The DXF file format, or Drawing eXchange Format, is the vector file format developed and maintained by Autodesk for the exchange of 2D/3D CAD data in an AutoCAD drawing with other applications. It has been adopted as an industry standard for this purpose, with widespread support for reading and writing DXF files across CAD/CAM/CAE and other technical applications (such as CNC machines).
DXF files generated by Visual integrity software can be imported and edited in AutoCAD and other packages such as Microstation, UniGraphics and PowerShape. An SDK is available for developers and OEMs to create plug-ins or add direct PDF to DXF file format functionality to their applications.
Do you need to convert PDF-based drawings or CNC designs? pdf2cad delivers flawless DXF files ready to use or modify in your favorite program. All objects, attributes, layers and text can be modified if needed.
DXF and SVG are the main file formats used by today’s maker community. Creating them from PDF means you don’t need specialized software. You can create your design in whatever program you like best, save it to PDF and then convert it with pdf2cad for immediate use as a cut-ready CNC file. The possibilities are endless. Try pdf2cad free for 30-days for DXF or pdf2picture for SVG.