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Convert PDF to DXF, for free!

From time to time in the land of CAD Monkeys, you need to convert a PDF to a DXF.

There are many packages out there that will do it for you, but they all cost money.  The quality and ease of use varies from package to package, but the end product rarely seems to differ.

I was hit with this problem during the week, and like I said in a previous post, money is tight so I needed a free and legal solution. A friend showed me how export a PDF as a DXF in Adobe Illustrator, so I wondered if there was an open source alternative to Illustrator.  After a bit of searching, I rediscovered Inkscape.

inkscape

Inkscape

Now, I am in no way comparing Adobe Illustrator with Inkscape. I have no real experience with either of them. What Inkscape has in common with Illustrator is that it can open PDF files and export DXF files. Best of all, Inkscape is free!

I started Inkscape and opened my PDF. I then did a save as and selected Desktop Cutting Plotter (R13) (*.dxf) The resulting DXF, when opened in your CAD package ( I mentioned some low cost ones here ), is mirrored and may need to be scaled up depending on your requirements. I presume that the DXF is mirrored as the DXF output is meant for use as a cutting template.

A few of things should be noted.

  • The first is that this only seems to work on PDF’s that were originally created from vector drawing packages, i.e. they were originally CAD drawing.
  • It does not convert text on the drawing to editable text in your CAD package.
  • It is not perfect, remember to check and then check again once it is converted to a DXF.

So that's it, a relatively quick, simple and free way to convert a PDF file to a DXF.  If anyone else knows of a better way to do this, please comment below as I would love to know about it.

Comments

HANHAN said…
This is an old post but very effective one....
GREAT!!!
CAD Monkey said…
Hi,

Thanks for the feedback, it is always welcome.
Fadi Yazbeck said…
Thanks Monkey it's so easy to convert pdf to dxf files...thank you for sharing this information.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for pointing out this option, verry effective.
Anonymous said…
Thank you, It's very useful and free is the best part! :D
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the great lead on Inkscape ... been looking around for awhile to convert PDF to DXF ... Inkscape works great!

Thanks very much!
CAD Monkey said…
Only too glad to help.
Anonymous said…
just thought id point out that this can be done through gsview - using ghostscript (of which i believe inkscape uses to do the conversion also)
Eric said…
Unfortunately this did NOT not work for me. As I received the following error message:
The fantastic lxml wrapper for libxml2 is required by inkex.py and therefore this extension. Please download and install the latest version from http://cheeseshop.python.org/pypi/lxml/, or install it through your package manager by a command like: sudo apt-get install python-lxml

I installed the lxml from python.org, but still no luck. I am running OSX 10.7.4 (Lion)
CAD Monkey said…
Hi Eric, unfortunately I have no idea what the problem may be. I know precious little about OSX.
Anonymous said…
THANKS! GOT IT DOWNLOADED!
TruXter said…
I tried multiple different pdfs. None worked for me. Some crashed in loading, and some came out blank.


My search continue for finding an opensource pdf to dxf converter.
CAD Monkey said…
Hi TruXter,

Unfortunately it all depends on how the PDF was created in the first place.

If it comes from a scanned image, then Inkscape will not work well at all.
Anonymous said…
Thanks mate, this saved me loads of time. Much appreciated. Morgan
Rogge said…
Great!
CAD Monkey said…
Glad that you both found this useful. Feel free to share!
Anonymous said…
thank you very much

you have solved my problem
i have been searching,to convert pdf to dxf now i got one ...

thanks for this info i m very gr8ful
Anonymous said…
Thank you, i already had Illustrator so this is really useful to know.
John Owles said…
I have just tried PDF to DXF with Inkscape. I seem to have found a way to do the conversion with a PDF not created directly from a CAD drawing.

1. Use ‘Open With’ Inkscape from Windows Explorer
2. Uncheck ‘Embed Image’ in PDF Import Settings
3. “Extract Image” from the Extensions Menu/Image
4. Select and Ungroup
5. Save as DXF

It worked for me and saves $180.

Have another go. I hope this helps
Chew on THIS!! said…
I had another customer who wanted a sign laser cut. I found this blog and installed Inkscape in hopes that it would make conversion from PDF to DXF easy. I was able to save/convert the PDF to a DXF file but my programming software won't open the file. (SigmaNest). Thanks for the Tip thou.
CAD Monkey said…
Have you tried opening it in another cad package? If you don't have one, Draftsight is free from www.draftsight.com

Open it in Draftsight and resave as a DXF and see if it will work then.

Anonymous said…
Great quality output, very impressed!
Anonymous said…
Don't forget there's a free trial of Scan2CAD to convert PDF to DXF

I found this article when searching for suitable software: http://www.scan2cad.com/pro-tips-to-convert-jpg-to-dxf/

It's good for those who need a more feature-rich solution (i.e. convert to text in images to vector DXF etc.

Anonymous said…
Gah! I posted the wrong article sorry. I meant this one to convert PDF to DXF

http://www.scan2cad.com/pdf-to-dxf-cad/

CAD Monkey said…
Hi. I've used the demo of Scan2Cad and it is an excellent program. Someday,I may actually buy a copy!
Mike G said…
I'm trying to bring get the pdf into Proengineer (Wildfire 4). Inkscape crashed on a large pdf, but worked when I tried a small file. But the dxf produced from that crashed Wildfire. Back to the drawing board (oh no, not that!)
Tiago Vidal said…
thank you very much!
I got more quality after reading this post.
http://www.inkscapeforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13380

Hugs from Brazil
CAD Monkey said…
Thanks Tiago. I'll check it out myself.
Anonymous said…
Excellent advice. I have been looking for a free program to convert PDF files for my cad program. As you say best results are when the file was originally a cad file. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this.
Anonymous said…
Thank you very much. I had a licensed copy of Print2Cad 2011 that I used occasionally. Just had to re-install windows and they would not let me re-download, they want me to pay for an upgrade instead.

This method you've described works just as well for what I do. Thanks!
buyi wen said…
i find a free online pdf to image converter to convert pdf to jpg online.
kryptik said…
John Owles - You nailed it! Thank you. I have been looking forever to find a good easy solution. This one works Great. Thank you so much.
Deepak Candyman said…
Thank you for sharing on how to Convert PDF to DXF, for free. It was really a great idea. Keep sharing information like this.
with regards
CAD Drawings

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