36 Replies Latest reply on Jul 31, 2013 7:15 PM by Cameron Nicholson

    export to vector format for editting in Illustrator

    Sharon Benedict


      We are trying to figure out the best way to export a model into a high-res, vector drawing, editable in Adobe Illustrator. Any advice? I'm not a SolidWorks user but a Graphic Designer working with SolidWorks users. We need to use their models in presentations and marketing materials. The bitmap image exports we've tried thus far appear pixelated.



        • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
          Ryan Horst

          The best way is to make a drawing in solidworks and save as a pdf.  The only way to get a vector format is from the 2d drawing file.

          • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
            Charles Culp



            You want a 3D view of the model? If so, then I suggest utilizing the PhotoView 360 software to make a nice rendering. With those options you can make the resolution anything you need to match your end output. PV360 will render the image using advanced lighting and raytracing, so it takes a while to compute. It also requires SolidWorks Professional, or a stand-alone plug-in license.


            You can save SolidWorks sketches as vectors. You can save SolidWorks drawings as vectors. You will only get the edges though, none of the shading. So if you have a SolidWorks drawing open, you can get those lines as an .ai file.

              • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                Ranjiet Menon

                Hey guys,

                I am trying to do the exact opposite of what is mentioned in this post.....I have an AI file created using AI CS6, but when I try to import the file into SolidWorks, I get an error saying SolidWorks can import files created using Illustrator CS3 or later.


                I am using SW 2012 SP4 and AI CS6.


                Any thoughts on what I am doing wrong, or how to fix this issue would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks in advnce!!!





                  • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                    Sandra Albuquerque

                    Ranjiet, I'm having the same problem as you, but I'm running SW 2012 SP5 and the 64-bit version of both SW and AI. Here's the reply I got from SW:


                    "This is a reproducible issue, the Adobe file can be imported into SolidWorks if Adobe CS4 or CS5 is installed. The issue is with Adobe CS6. I will be updating this SR with a SPR trouble report. In the meantime, please export the file out of Adobe CS6 using the DXF option and then import it in to SolidWorks.


                    Here is a copy of the SPR that will be created.


                    SPR 678415 Error: Adobe illustrator version CS3 or later installation is required to import an Adobe Illustrator file to SolidWorks even with Adobe illustrator CS6 installed."


                    As you may already know, back saving to an earlier version using AI CS6 won't work.

                • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                  Leif Buckley

                  Hi Sharon, I have to use this routine every day, for me "export .ai" is worthless as it will segment the entire image once you open it in Illustrator. I create a drawing of the angle I want, crank up the image quality and then save as ".DFX" 1 to 1. When I open this file in Illustrator, I only have to remove the lines that are leftover from the Drawing Sheet (i.e. the info box).


                  Hope that helps.

                  • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                    Marc Herrera

                    Hi Sharon,

                    I have the same problem. So every person giving you an answer has no knowledge about the difference between a bitmap file vs a vector file, so most of the above answers are useless. I've tried exporting to an illustrator file for use in our user manuals. It seems to work, but when I zoom in on the exported .ai file I find jagged lines and worst non of the lines are joined at any end points. It seems to just throw away any of the configured drawing assembly/exploded view information (that I would like to be able to selectively pull apart) and flatten the file. This is about the same result as printing as a PDF file.


                    I'm going to play with the DXF options. I did figured out that if you export one part at a time rather then an overlapping assembled configured view it retains usable .ai features.


                    It's a battle with our engineers. "Why can you use the the drawings we give you?" My answer is always "the illustrations in the manuals have to be paired down to their bare essentials (simplified look). The rule of any Graphic Designer is to comunicate with as little "ink" as possible!

                    • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator

                      Sharon and all,


                      The best way would be to open the saved DXF from SW into Illustrator.


                      I'm going to look into this issue and probably file an SPR because if you select the drawing views and then use Edit>copy to illustrator, it only vectorizes the annotations and hatching but not the geometry - this is wrong, and I'm going to try to convince development that we need ALL of it.  Cross your fingers and wish me luck





                      • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                        Alin Vargatu

                        Rob is right. Give 3DVIA Composer a try. You can take advantage of the free 30 days trial.

                        • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                          Roland Schwarz

                          I realized that my previous export to AI method is probably a bit different than most.  Typically, I did not rely on the SW-generated PDF (available via Save As --> PDF).  I had generated PDFs using various print engines.  Sometimes I printed to PostScript and then converteed to PDF (using GhostView, which is free).  Sometimes I used other print-to-PDF utilities.


                          If saving to PDF is not yielding good quality, try other methods to generate PDF.  They are not all created equal.

                          • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                            Chris Atkin

                            This may a bit late for you, but i thought i would post this hopeing it might help at least someone else.  I find solidworks is really great for design labels and inlays for our equipment, but so far i have yet to find a printer (i mean a  graphics company) that can open a solidworks file.  Typically I have been sending our printer a pdf drawing and after many complaints by the printers we eventually get something acceptable.  However today, as luck would have it, i needed to have another batch of machine name plates made up and I decided that i want  to put this issue to bed once and for all. As it turns out, there is a way to export vectors form solidworks to illustrator.  I did this with Illuistrator CS5.  If you want to try it, you can download a 30 day trial from Adobe.


                            Here are the steps:

                            1. Open your model file, and select "Save As" then ".dxf" file and select the "options" button.  Here is where you can get in trouble.  Illustrator says it can open 2006 and older files, but it doesn't at least when you export form solidworks.  However it works perfectly if select R14 version.  (other versions may work too, I didn't try them all).  You will get another dialogue and i just select my view that i want and i'm done with the solidworks part. 


                            2. now open illustrator, and open your file.


                            3.  Now heres the second trick, don't click too quickly.  after you select your file, a DXF/DWG option dialog will appear.  Under scale, leave it at 100%, but below that, it defulats as 1 unit = 1 Point, you need to change that so that 1 unit = 1 inch.  once you do that your image will appear.  I then change my art pad to match the drawing size.  Also, if this is something that is goign to be cut (ie a label), i usually move my border or cutting edges to another layer that I label as "cuts" and keep the graphics on a seperate layer.  The only word of warning is that your text will be imported as splines instead of text.  The other thing that i do is change the light weight to the smallest (i think .25pt).  Then fill in my text as neccessary.  Just be carefull when your editing because since its vector graphics, its real easy to drag an edge around. 


                            Its pretty easy after you do it once of twice. 

                            • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                              Vikas Jindal

                              I tried looking into this, but as per my knowledge there is no option to export solidwork drawings into  a 2-d vector format.

                              The best solution for the problem will be to save every sheet into jpeg format using high resolution. For that before saving the file go to the options section and increase the dpi value. The more value you choose, your response will be slow but the resolution will be great.


                              For the people who are talking about the 3-Dvia, i am sorry my friend but I found it as a peice of crap. it takes 5-10 secs to zoom in or out for an assembly and not at all user friendly, I will recommend soliworks to improvise and fix the issues.

                              • Re: export to vector format for editting in Illustrator
                                Cameron Nicholson

                                I have found saving as AI. works 90% of the time. By 90% I mean the other 10% of the time when I open the AI. file in Illustrator it isn't vectors. It has turned itself into one or a series of bitmaps.

                                If this happens I save as a DXF, which usually creates more paths inside Illustrator but hasn't failed me yet (so long as I can open it).


                                When I can't open the the DXF in Illustrator (PC says it doesn't have enough RAM to open) I have only found one work around.

                                1. When creating the drawing in SW scale the assembly/part to 1:1 or larger (the bigger the better). Make sure the you change the sheet size to fit the entire drawing view(s) inside.
                                2. Set the display style of the drawing view(s) to 'hidden lines removed' Save as AI. (If hidden lines aren't removed and its a shaded view then it will not save as a vector).
                                3. Afer opening the file in Illustrator and finding it is still a bitmap file you can live trace it. Because the drawing is so big it should trace relatively close to what your after as an end result. Might need to adjust the live trace options to suit. (I change the px areas between 0 - 10px. This gives a tighter, higher quality line).
                                4. Expand the trace and ungroup the image
                                5. Adjust the line weights (if required) eg. 0.05pt
                                6. Scale down to the correct size your after and copy into the document.


                                I have found the end result almost mirrors that of one that has saved perfectly from SW to AI