What is a DXF file? Everything You Need To Know About DXF file

What is a DXF file?

What is a DXF file


To understand everything about a DXF file, the first question to answer is “what is a DXF file? Simply put, a DXF file is a form of file extension that is used for a graphic image format. This file format is often utilized with Auto Computer Assisted Drafting (AutoCAD) software.

DXF is the acronym for the Drawing Exchange Format. It can also be used as a short form of Drawing Interchange Format. AutoDesk developed this file in 1982 to allow users to interoperate different data between AutoCAD and other software.

What program will open a DXF file?

The majority of GIS, CAD, and CNC programs can open, view, and edit DXF files. A few of the popular DXF file viewers include:

  • Coreldraw
  • AutoCAD
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Scan2CAD
  • Open Office
  • DWG True View
  • TurboCAD
  • Mastercam X
  • LibreOffice
  • Paint Shop Pro 7
  • Paint Shop Pro 8
  • Paint Shop Pro 9
  • Cheetah 3D
  • Autodesk Design Review
  • Serif DrawPlus
  • ProgeCAD iCADMac
  • ACD Systems Canvas 14
  • IMSI TurboCAD Deluxe
  • Microsoft Visio
  • XnView
  • Dassault Systemes SolidWorks eDrawings Viewer
  • ThumbsPlus
  • Wout Ware DWG DXF Sharp Viewer

What is the difference between DWG and DXF?

What is a DXF file



Basically, both DXF and DWG are different types of file formats for saving a drawing. DWG file is the original format for saving drawings as this format ensures that the applicable colors, layers, x-references, and line weights are appropriately retained. However, the DXF file format does not retain some of these sets of information. It only retains text, linework, and dimensions.

The DXF was developed to ensure that programs that can open DWG file formats can access information in a drawing file. In comparison, DWG file formats are more popular and common than the DXF formats.

Can CorelDRAW open DXF files?

Yes, CorelDRAW can be used to open DXF files. If you would like to open a DXF file with CorelDRAW, follow the steps below:

  • Foremost, launch CorelDRAW app on your PC
  • Navigate to the “File” option; move to “Open” and then click it
  • Look for the DXF file that you want to open and select it. You can view, edit, and save the file

Can I open a DXF file in AutoCAD?

Yes, you can open a DXF file format in AutoCAD. To open a DXF file in AutoCAD, follow these steps:

  • Open the program and navigate the “File” menu
  • Afterward, click “Open”
  • Move to the Select File dialog box. Choose DXF file format (*.dxf)
  • Look for the DXF file that you would like to open. As an alternative, enter the DXF file name at the “File Name” option
  • Click “Open” and start editing, saving, or viewing the file

What Is the DXF file used for?

The main function of the DXF file is for sharing drawings across various CAD programs. This file format ensures that users can open, view, and edit the graphical data in the native file format of AutoCAD known as DWG. In most situations, it is used for opening CAD designs on software that cannot open the DWG file format.

How do I create a DXF file?

There are different programs for creating a DXF file and each program uses varying processes for doing so. However, if you understand how to use some of the main programs, it will be easy for you to use most other programs.

If you want to use Adobe Illustrator to create a DXF file, here is the procedure:

  • Launch CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator program on your PC
  • Find the “Open” dialog box and click it
  • Click the drawing you want to create as a DXF file. Select the “Open” option to view the drawing in the window
  • Click “File”. Afterward, navigate to the “Export” dialog box and click it.
  • Use the drop-down menu and click “Save as type”. Select “AutoCAD Interchange File (*.DXF). Finally, click “Save” and the DXF will be created immediately.

Similarly, you can use Microsoft Visio to create the DXF file format. Follow the steps below to create the file:

  • Launch Microsoft Visio on your PC
  • Select “File” and then check the dialog box to find “Open”. Select “Open”
  • Navigate to the illustration that you want to create as a DXF file. Click “Open” to view the file in the window
  • Then click “File”. Afterward, check out the dialog box and select “Save As”
  • Use the drop-down menu and click “Save as type”. Select “AutoCAD Interchange File (*.DXF). Finally, click “Save” to create the DXF file

Is a DXF file 3D?

Yes, a DXF file is 3D depending on the components, parts, assemblies, and features of the drawing created in AutoCAD and saved as a DXF file.

How do I open a DXF file on a Mac?

To open a DXF file on a Mac, simply follow these guidelines:

  • Launch any DXF file viewer that you have on your system. Click “File” and then “Open”
  • Find the dialog box, select the “File Format” drop-down option. Choose DXF file format (.dxf)
  • Click “Open” to view and edit the DXF file.

When using Mac OS, the programs you can use include CorelCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Microspot DWG Viewer, Engineered Software PowerCAD, Autodesk AutoCAD, IMSI TurboCAD Deluxe, and Dassault Systemes SolidWorks eDrawings Viewer.

Most Popular CAD Software

The CAD software is a program that can be utilized for designing or drawing for 3D objects. Many of the most popular CAD software is used for creating objects that are applicable in architecture, industrial design, aerospace engineering, mechanical design and lots more.

The most popular CAD programs include:





This software is one of the best and most popular CAD programs that you can get today. AutoCAD can be used for an array of drawings and has various versions including:

  • AutoCAD CAD
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D




Autodesk 3DS MAX

AutoDesk 3DS MAX is a 3D software that is specifically designed for rendering, animation, simulation, and modeling. This software is best utilized in the film industry for designing their own tools.

Autodesk MAYA

This is a 3D animation program that can do lots of activities such as simulation, modeling, rendering, and animation. Autodesk is one of the favorite programs among 3D animators as it allows them to design high-quality 3D scenes and charterers. This software features excellent animation and rigging tools which make sure that animators can do a lot of things with it.




This is another popular CAD software that has proven to be one of the best for 3D computer-aided engineering and CAD modeling. Developed by Dassault Systemes, this powerful modeler works by utilizing a parametric feature-centric system to design exceptional CAD assemblies and models.


One other popular CAD software good for software enthusiasts is ArchiCAD. Produced by GraphicSoft, this software is a necessity for every architect that understands the need for efficiency and simplicity. It helps the architect to balance the demands of practical necessities and qualitative design. With ArchiCAD innovative BIM platform, you are guaranteed the opportunity to focus on your skills and abilities to create inspiring designs and at the same time win more business.

Alibre Design

Geomagic Design is yet another CAD program that has garnered a significant amount of fame and recognition in the product design industry. It is designed to aid in the process of mechanical design and fabrication by making it possible to model custom part which can thereafter be printed in 3D. It provides you with a perfect blend of functionality, simplicity, and flexibility. Definitely, the Alibre Design is one of the most reliable instruments you can reach out to when it comes to mechanical manufacturing, development, and design.

AutoDesk Allias

Without a doubt, this CAD software has established itself as another reliable option in the business of CAD modeling and 3D computer-aided engineering. This industrial design software is most suited for surface modeling experts and this has made it increase in popularity among industrial designers over the years.

It packs an exhaustive collection of tools that enhance sketching, surfacing, modeling, and visualization of automotive and product designs. There are different versions of this software CAD and they are Alias SpeedForm, Alias Surface, Alias AutoStudio, Alias Design as well as Alias Concept.

Autodesk Revit

Another popular software CAD that is particularly tailored towards building information modeling is the Autodesk Revit which is quite common design solution in the construction industry, It is a construction and building software produced with the ultimate aim of enabling architects to create and visualize structural, MEP and architectural designs with relative ease.

Bentley Microstation

This popular software is one the foremost and most in-demand ZD and 3D CAD and information modeling software around. It produced with the goal of aiding the engineering, construction, architecture, and operation of buildings, roads and rails, utility systems, communications networks, bridges, water and wastewater networks, mining, process plants just to mention a few. This software program is the leading competitor to the previously highlighted Autodesk Revit in the world of Building Information Modelling.


CATIA is also one of the very popular software CAD available for users. It is a leading design program that concentrates on product design and it is mostly used in the Automotive, Aerospace, Machine Industry, and Equipment Design sectors.




Draftsight is another free CAD software which is quite famous among users. Created by Dassault Systèmes, the software looks and works just like AutoCAD and other CAD programs. It serves as a viable alternative to AutoCAD and is able to read the DWG file.


FreeCAD is CAD software that is very popular among both beginners and experienced users. As the name implies, the software solution is a free parametric 3D modeler that enables users to work back and forth on a project as it lets you come back and change parameters of an already existing model of a project. It is software that is cherished a lot by experienced CAD users and programmers for commercial parametric modeling.


When it comes to popular CAD programs, the list can never be complete without Femap which is a software made by the German company Siemens. The software program is mostly used for advanced engineering finite element analysis.




IronCAD is one other CAD software which most AutoCAD users are familiar with. The software was created to give you absolute freedom while you put your idea into 3D reality. Indeed, this popular CAD software does not only give you the greatest degree of design freedom possible as it also provides a unique alternative to traditional history-based parametric mechanisms.


KeyShot is another software that makes the list of popular CAD software. It is a 3D Rendering and animation CAD software program and as such, it is not used for modeling. This means you have to make use of another CAD software to your 3D object after which you then use Keyshot to render it.

Key Creator

Key Creator is CAD software mainly deployed for purposes and analyses. Due to its efficiency, it has become popular among various users. The software program allows CAD drafters to create, analyze, change or communicate a mechanical component or design which much swiftness and flexibility.




Another software that makes the popularity of CAD software is LightWave. It is a 3D modeling CAD software that blends together powerful-intuitive modeling as well as animation tools. Its popularity is derived mostly from the 3D animation as it is quite a commonplace there.


MODO is also very popular as a CAD program. The software solution combines a collection of 3D modeling, sculpting, animation, effects as well as rendering all in a powerful integrated package.

MasterCAM X8

Another really popular program that makes this list is MasterCAM X8. The software program is a CAD/CAM (Computer-aided design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing) platform created for engineers and machinists. It is the ultimate choice software for most CNC programmers. This CAD program allows a wide variety of things that include complete 3D live wireframe modeling, optional solid modeling, efficient surface modeling, and editing, a wide range of translators that lets you access any CAD file, associative dimensioning, analysis, and host of others.


NX is another popular CAD software that is targeted towards parametric and direct modeling as well as dynamic, static, thermal analysis and manufacturing. This CAD/CAM/CAE software is a very advanced package renowned for its power and efficiency.





OpenSCAD is a favorite of the most skilled programmers as such very popular. It is a 3D CAD modeler which you can get for free but while you can make 3D models of machine parts with it, it might not be the best choice for creating computer-animated movies.

PTC Creo Elements

This list of popular CAD software continues to expand as we have another one known as PTC Creo Elements/Direct Modeling Express. This CAD software platform is generally believed to be powerful 3D CAD software. It is created for product design with short design cycles. As such, it is the perfect choice for short-series production runs.


Rhino is another popular CAD software that gives the user the power to make, analyze, edit, document, animate, render and create surfaces, point clouds, solids as well as polygon meshes. The CAD program is protectively used in industrial design, cnc design, furniture design, jewelry design, mechanical design and a host of other design-related fields.



Furthermore, another CAD software that deserves a place in this list is SketchUp which is a free 3D CAD modeler created Google. The target of this software is to enhance and facilitate the learning curve to the less possible. Therefore, it is no surprise that it is reasonably popular as it attracts a significant amount of users based on that particular fact.


The last software program to be highlighted on this list is SolidFace. Solidface is 2D/3D CAD software which almost all users can get and it comes quite cheap and affordable. A distinctive feature of this CAD software is the built-in 2D/3D Movement Simulation module that comes with.

Finally, other popular CAD software which you might want to try out as a user include SolidEdge, Space Claim, ThinkerCAD, SurfCAM, Solid thinking Evolve, T FLEX CAD, TurboCAD, ViaCAD 3D, and ZW3.


Best free CAD software for beginners

If you are a beginner, you may need to start with CAD software that is both free and easy to use. Such software will introduce to CAD without overwhelming with the complexity involved.

To help you choose a CAD program, check out the following sets of free CAD software that are best recommended for beginners.


 TinkerCAD is one of the best software programs for beginners. It is a browser-based 3D design and modeling instrument that is easy to use. You are provided a comprehensive range of native shapes to use like spheres, cones, cubes, cylinders and many more that you can use to create 3D objects by combining, cutting and intersecting, other shapes. This tool created by Autodesk comes with an interface that is user-friendly, making it a suitable choice for novices. You can also get it for free.

3D Slash

If you are a beginner looking for a good way to master the basics of CAD programming, 3D Slash is the ideal choice for you. It is a block-based 3D modeling utility that allows you to make objects using blocks. It comes in both the free version as well as the paid versions that pack advanced functionality. It also has an intuitive user interface that makes handling it an easy exercise. As a result of this, it is one of the best for beginners.


NanoCAD is a 2D drafting utility that allows the user to design building plans, schematics and a whole lot of other things. It is perfect for inexperienced CAD users as it has a user interface that is similar to other industry-standard products such as AutoCAD. As such learning becomes easier and moving from one 2D program to another gets less demanding. It also comes in two versions; first is the free version and then there is the advanced one that boasts of advanced features.


QCAD is another  2D CAD drafting program that makes the learning curve easier for CAD software beginners. It has a user interface that makes for easy navigation and adaptation and offers you an easy way of mastering the basics of CAD use. This software utility is supported on Windows, Mac, Unix, and Linux operating systems. It is particularly good for developing building plans, mechanical parts, interiors, schematics, and diagrams.


When it comes to sculpting CAD programs perfect for beginners, the list can never be complete without Blender. This software is a free and open-source 3D graphics utility used to 3D objects. It has a wide variety of options that include modeling, rigging, rendering, compositing, animation, simulation, as well as motion tracking.


Another sculpting program ideal for beginners is SculptGL which is a digital sculpting web utility for making animated objects and characters for graphic content, films as well as video games. It has a good list of tools that make the process less demanding such as inflate, twist, smooth, drag among many other features.


FreeCAD is open-source parametric modeling software that CAD users generally find easy to use, especially the experienced programmer. The software application is mostly used for mechanical engineering applications. You are allowed to sketch, and model in 3D. In addition, you can do a lot of other cool things like performing simulations and then exporting for manufacturing. While a novice may struggle a bit with this program at the beginning, it serves as a perfect platform for learning more advanced software.


Onshape is a browser-based parametric-modeling software that also works well for beginners. The program has an exhaustive range of cloud-based services which makes it the ideal tool for team collaboration as a lot of people can simultaneously work on the same design and chat. This utility is proactively used for mechanical engineering and product design applications. It is supported by Mac, Windows, Linux, Unix, Linux, Android, and even iOS operating systems which means you can also access it on a mobile phone.