I have the problem that I have a dxf file. It shows basically a model I want to build in the future. This model was exported to a dxf file and I load it into Adobe Illustrator. Then it is possible to isolate the single sections to a svg file so that later on they can be cutted (in the best way automatically). I understand it in general and I have the finished files. So I know it works.

However there is one key knowledge missing which is really important for me, because I later want to do this with my own model (these file is only a template to illustrate the workflow so that one can understand how it works in general). I have the dxf file loaded into Adobe Illustrator, however now I don't know how to isolate the single section layers from the dxf file and put each one to svg file? This is my question.

As I said I can give you the two finished files. So from the dxf file the svg should be created. I tried to somehow isolate these single sections but my technical abilities are not sufficient for this. I guess these sections have to be selected from the overlayed ones I marked red here (but thats only a guess):


From the dxf file the svg should be created. The finished svg file contains all sections already aligned and collected for optimal space savings when cutting it. See here this example screenshot:

SVG File

The dxf file can be found here and the svg file here. The preview of the svg file does not work (blank white page is shown), but the file and the download works. When you open the svg file in Illustrator probably it just shows you a white page. This is because you have to zoom out. When you zoom out you can see the sections left to it in the grey area. They are already aligned and have the size of this white area (this is the cutting area to check it fits into the limited size of the cutter). So just zoom out a bit. As you can see in the finished file there were some additional modifications done to make it more easy to put peaces together. For me the first and most important step is how to isolate the sections. Of course if one can also explain and reproduce the modifications this would also help me a lot, but this is a minor question.

  • 1
    Probably not possible, i would look at changing the export. Also auto optimizing layout for cutting is possible but its really is not very time efficient, and does not produce that nice output.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 15:27

2 Answers 2


Your DXF has all green section curves in the same layer. It's already in DXF, it's not a result of importing to Ai.

Another problem: All section curves are splitted. You must manually pick all parts which belong to the same curve. Adjacent curves are not adjacent in the Layers panel.

Third problem: you must carefully notice the place where your manually collected section is taken from on the longitudal axis of the boat. There exists no automatic connection between the green curves and the section placement drawing.

But if you bite the bullet and pick a section by selecting its parts one by one (hold Shift as you click), then

  • copy it to the clipboard
  • give a different stroke color to indicate "Done"
  • Goto another drawing, paste the section curve there
  • Ungroup all (The section curve parts are groups that consist one curve or line)
  • insert the missing line segments; probably some are missing because they cannot be selected separately because they are same for another section
  • join the parts together
  • export as informatively named SVG or at least inser some info text about "which section this is"

Quite a job, I say! But possible to do.

Still one caveat: The scaling. For example I am not at all sure how much the original dimensions are changed. The scaling easily changes in the format conversions due the different unit selections in different programs.

You will get the result much easier and have 1000 possiblities less for the errors if you can save the sections from the original cad drawing.

This is an add on to my answer to clarify some less than satisfying details.

Problem 3: When you have separated one section into an independent file which hasn't an informative name, you have no way to decide from where it was taken from, except making comparisons and measurements. Before separation the sections at least have some degree of order. Otherwise you cannot separate them. This difficulty can be meaningless, if

  • you are the original designer who remembers all details or
  • all sections are clearly different and there are not tens of nearly but not exactly equal parts

BTW: In a sheet metal factory they often ecth numbers to the parts.

Ungrouping: It should be done. You can do it as well before the separation.No need to do it twice.

  • Thanks for your answer, however I have one question about the Thrid problem: Can you explain this a bit more in detail? I don't get what you mean with paying attention to the longitudal axis and not to shift it? And I ungroup all of it at the beginning? Or why should I ungroup all after pasting it into a new drawing? I selected different parts with shift and then copy these (ungrouped before) to a new drawing, how/why then ungroup them again in the new file? Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 7:43

You have the same image in another question. There in a comment someone wrote "delftship". I have seen a free demo version of that program. Your image seems to be a 2D compilation of all major lines in the 3D model. It was the lines plan output or something closely resembling.

If you have acces to the original model and a non-disabled version of delftship, you also can save the model as 2D curves. You should get a file where all sections are drawn separately and easily copyable to separate drawings.

Unfortunately I have no idea how to fix your unit and size problem.

EDIT after seeing a comment

I reran the demo. My answer seem still to be valid. Their current demo even allowed to save the result (incredible, maybe not possible with other than their demo models) . See the screenshots.

1) saving the 2D curves version of their 3D demo model

enter image description here

2) The saved DXF opened in a CAD program

enter image description here

  • You are right, however there is no option to save the model as 2D curves drawn separately in delftship unfortunately. This is the exported lines plan and this is how delftship does it. Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 9:11
  • @StatTistician I checked it. See the augmented answer.
    – user82991
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 9:48
  • Thanks for your fast response and thanks a lot for your effort! However this is not possible with my model, this function is disabled (grey). You can check my original file here: drive.google.com/file/d/0B4P_jcyFOr-NV3M5MHBtVkNEN2c/… I can only choose to export it as 3D DXF curves and this is what I did. Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 13:16
  • @StatTistician For curiosity I opened your original model. The stations are exportable as coordinate list. There are several ways to get SVG's from the list. I add another comment of it. Export as OBJ is a full 3D model altough only a polygon mesh, not NURBS nor other "fine surface " format. The section curves are redoable in a CAD program by cutting with a plane. Developing a readinesto utilize these of course is nonsense for a single project.
    – user82991
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 0:19
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    @StatTistician I have looked at the delftship only for curiosity about what it is and how it possibly could be used for graphics. I have succesfully mangled a demo ship out of all seaworthiness. I saw it again in your other question a couple of days ago. With cads I have done also something useful. I'll check if I can do something to your other problem within 16 hours.
    – user82991
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 13:40

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