Solidworks to laser

I’ve got some CAD finished in Solidworks for something I would like to cut on the laser. During the demo we used illustrator files to import into the laser software, but there has to be some way to do something with CAD, right? Any good ideas? Needs to maintain scale.

I’ve done this by exporting a DXF from Solidworks and opening it in Lightburn. Make sure you get the view right when doing the export (otherwise everything will be skewed).


Make sure your scale is set to IPS in the lower right status bar. Select the view so that you’re looking at it dead-on.

File… Save As… DXF. Select “Current View”.

When saving, make sure that you select and delete any unnecessary lines in the black window that previews your file. [Hidden lines or axises (axes? doesn’t look right; plural of axis, whatever that is.) might otherwise get incorporated in your geometry.]

Yeah I often have a lot of construction geometry I need to delete.

Depending on the part, I have had a lot of success just doing the export as .dxf directly from a surface. That’s how I did the layers to prototype a keyboard case. Also IPS vs MM doesn’t matter, as long as you set the same on when you import to your preferred laser program.

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Yeah I could have been more clear. Since DXF is unit-less things can get confusing. It seems the default in LightBurn is inches so tried to keep it simple :slight_smile:

I do by default anyway cuz I am a filthy 'murican

I also often use inches instead of units that make sense.

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Learning how to use drawings in solidworks can be really helpful, rather than doing the “i dont have time for this i just want to laser my stuff” method, which we have all struggled with at some point in time. But yeah here’s a short rundown:

So here’s your part, dimensioned and everything, ready to go. First thing you do is go up and select “Make Drawing from Part”, like so

Then you’ll be presented with a new window asking what size you want your virtual sheet of paper to be.

Assuming you have a normal printer, we’re gonna do a custom sheet size, typing in “11in” for height and “8.5in” for width.

Once that’s done you will be set up to start placing “views” of your model. On the right you will see the “View Palette” tab. If the window isn’t automatically pulled up, you can always click the task pane tab here


And, as it says in the yellow box, we’re going to drag a view onto the drawing sheet. I see my smileyface from the top view, but yours may be different depending on which plane you modeled on.

You’ll notice that once you drag your model onto the paper, if you move your mouse around you will see other projections of that model from different perspectives.

This is a quick way to flesh out a good drawing for a more complex part, but since we’re just lasering from a single view, i’m going to just hit escape to complete the process

now we are left with a lone smileyface. But if you remember in our earlier steps, this piece of paper is 8.5"x11". And I know that my smileyface is supposed to be 5" wide, so something isn’t right.

As it turns out, solidworks automatically scales your model to fit on the page nicely, and we can see what that scaling factor is by clicking it and looking at its properties panel


Looks like he was scaled down by 2. I’m going to change that to 1:1 and see what happens

Much better. Now, if i were to save and export this, he would be the correct size. Observe.


Yes, you can export as an illustrator file. Yes, it does work. And yes, it does completely dodge all of the dxf scaling headaches. I tried to export as dxf but ended up having missing lines that I couldn’t figure out. Whatever, dxf is a pain anyways. Illustrator file time.

Something wrong, I dont want to laser those dotted lines, just the smileyface. Back to solidworks to delete them.

it’s as simple as click-and-drag and hit the delete key. Then your export is ready.

there we go. You can import this file directly into RDWorks and i think also lightburn, and the scaling will be preserved automatically. Hope this helps.


I’ve always had great luck with DXF and was going to cry foul, until I saw that this is precisely what I’ve been looking for for another purpose: to export .AI for use in assembly and instruction manuals.


I feel obligated to mention this, but that is not what the drawings portion of solidworks is intended for. The DXF export is a much better fit for exporting to a laser.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t learn how to make a nice engineering drawing of your part, but hacking away most of the features of the drawings module to do something the DXF export already does… Nah.

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I was originally going to show dxf first, then ai, but i was having issues actually exporting it. The eyeballs were missing. Still trying to figure that out.

If you want to post the part file I can take a look at it.

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You can have a lot of fun by exporting from Solidworks to jpgs, mp4s, and gifs:

Yes but none are vectors that scale well in documents.