Get the Right File to your CNC Shop
While a lot of this may be common knowledge to those that are in the engineering industry, we often get a lot of questions regarding what type of digital files we like to use while cutting on our CNC machines.
What is a .dxf File?
The short answer is a CAD file, more specifically a .dxf or .dwg file. Here is a quick rundown on .dxf files, also known as drawing interchange format files. These files are either a binary or an ASCII representation of a drawing file. Better explained in an Auto CAD article that can be found here. Files that are saved in .dxf file formats can also be saved in .dwg files which is another preferred type within the CAD software.
The reason CNC shops prefer .dxf and .dwg files is because they are easier to work with. The files read to 16 decimal points meaning they are smaller and faster! This means when you send over a .dxf file you are saving the programmer valuable set up time resulting in cost savings for the client.
Now if you don’t have access to a .dxf file this doesn’t mean the job cannot be done, the current file you have will just need to be transferred to a ‘cuttable’ .dxf file. This can take anywhere from 30 seconds to hours of work depending on the complexity of the drawing.
How to Create a .dxf or .dwg file
First off to create a .dxf file you will need a CAD software program, a common example of this type of software would be SolidWorks. Programs like SolidWorks help the user to create a standard 2D CAD file to easily share between companies and other users. There is a learning curve of this type of software but experienced users can transfer files from other formats like PDFs and JPEGs with relative ease. It is important to note that all drawings that are not .dxfs should have proper scaling sent with them for reference.
Sending Files for Bent Parts
When sending a file fore bent part it is best practice to send a couple different files to your industrial manufacturing partners. A 2D Cad file should be routinely sent along with the 3D CAD files that also shows the part with complete bends. It is important to send the flat 2D files so measurements can be confirmed as this is crucial to the parts success.
A skilled CNC and fabrication shop can really transfer any files that you have. In house we have cut highly technical engineer drawings all the way down to hand sketches. The main difference being that a proper CAD file goes a long way in cutting down the time and cost in getting a proper quote. Our team of skilled programmers and operators will make sure that we have what we need to meet the standard of your component, and we are not afraid to ask for clarification!