My design is a loose irregular circle with an internal design made up of round holes - numbering hundreds. I exported the Ai file (1MB) as outlines to .dxf, ending up with a 3MB file. The intention is to laser cut it from steel. However the fabricator says it has come out as a 140MB file consisting of polylines and splines but he needs lines and arcs. I can only open the dxf in Illustrator so I can't see what's happened. First time I've had this result. Any suggestions from the experts out there?

2 Answers 2


Unless you are willing to write your own exporter. Its not going to happen. Illusrator has no arc or line primitives so all these things need to be recognized from the data by infering from the shape.

Converting your file to what you want shouldnt be that much of a pain though if you have a decent cad system. But if illustrator is all you got then not going to happen.

  • Thanks Joojaa, I'll stop trying to re-invent the wheel and I'll send a thanks to all those fabricators who have in the past quietly found a work around and converted my files to a format they can work with and not made a fuss about it!!
    – Jennifer J
    Sep 3, 2019 at 2:22
  • @JenniferJ you have taken a step too far. Engineering and addvertisement manufacturing are incompatible. We have the same problem where i work. The low power lasers ment for acrylic, plywood, mdf etc. are "advertisement" industry lasers. These will happily accept illustrator files. Then we have the heavy duty engineering tools of waterjet cutters, cnc machines and a external multiaxis laser. These dont like files that start their life in illustrator, like no at all. Anybody who designed in illustrator is just sent to fixing them. Its not like we couldnt fix the files but we dont have time.
    – joojaa
    Sep 3, 2019 at 4:57
  • What your experiencing is the same as you asking your client of a vector file when they supplied a web quality jpeg for their logo for a print job. Manufacturing plants just have less margin so they are unlikely to redraw the thing. They would probably do this for you with no fuss if you would be willing to tripple your manufacturing cost.
    – joojaa
    Sep 3, 2019 at 5:04
  • There are other tools which can help - Draftsight, OnShape, etc are all freeware - I use Modo (not free) for general 3D work, and I'd bring the vectors out of illustrator as .svg or .eps, (with a specific unit-sized non-design element to confirm scale with) and be able to save a .dxf out from Modo and know I'd have proper splines - or I'd redraw in DraftSight after importing the .svg as a snapping base. Sep 3, 2019 at 17:44
  • Sure @GerardFalla DXF is a very simple format. one could simply do this in a text editor with copypaste too... but i digress
    – joojaa
    Sep 3, 2019 at 18:03

Occam's razor type simple answer here - as a longtime CAD user (ACad and its many competitors) I suggest opening the .dxf in your CAD tool of choice, setting the curve resolution quite high, then exploding all the splines and polylines - you'll get segments out of all of them - then resave with an iterated filename.

Curve resolution is set via the CAD command prompt >VIEWRES This will give a question / prompt about Fast Zooms - say Yes and when the query is asked for Curve / circle Zoom value, put in a value higher than 1000 to get better curve resolution- for this one, go seriously high - say 10000. CAD will then rerender all curves and splines and arcs and circles with this higher curve resolution - which may take an appreciable calculation time. Once this is done, and you can see your geometry with its lovely smooth curves, save under the new filename.

Then select all polylines, and Explode them. Do the same with all splines, then arcs, then circles.

Resave under that new name.

This file should be slightly larger than the previous un-exploded version, and may take some time on first opening, but should give your fabricator what they need.

If you don't have access to AutoCAD, and/or don't have money to burn on such software at the moment, there are alternatives which are quite serviceable:

Draftsight, OnShape, DesignSpark Mechanical

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answers, I'll save them for next time. Happily my fabricator has gone to a different laser cutter (recommended by me) who has been able to work with my file. Thanks for the recommendations for other software to look at.
    – Jennifer J
    Sep 18, 2019 at 1:17

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