Altium NEXUS Documentation

Import from AutoCAD (PCB)

Modified by Susan Riege on Jun 1, 2020

The Import from AutoCAD dialog

Summary

The Import from AutoCAD dialog allows you to import layered graphic data from AutoCAD *.DXF or *.DWG files into the current PCB document.

Up to and including AutoCAD 2013 files are supported.

Access

When the PCB editor is active, the dialog is accessed by clicking File » Import » DXF/DWG. Browse and select the desired AutoCAD file in the Import File dialog, then click Open

Options/Controls

Blocks

  • Import as components  – The Importer will attempt to parse AutoCAD Blocks (grouped collections of primitive objects) as compound objects and place them on the document as PCB components.
  • Import as primitives – The Importer will parse all AutoCAD object data, including objects within Blocks, as primitive/base objects (lines/tracks, arcs, etc).

Drawing Space

The AutoCAD DXF/DWG format allows for the inclusion of two Drawing environments – the Model space and Paper space. In AutoCAD, the drawing source is in the limitless 3D Model space, and can also be resized into the 2D Paper space in preparation for page printing. The saved DXF/DWG file can include the Model space data or data from both the Model and Paper spaces.

  • Model – Select to set the drawing source graphic, and its dimensional information, to be extracted from the file's Model space data. The dimensional data is at true scaling (1:1). This is the recommended setting for a reliable import process.
  • Paper – Select to set the drawing source graphic, and its dimensional information, to be extracted from the file's Paper space data. In the source file, the Paper space dimensional information is scaled to suit a specified page size and layout. Note that Paper space data might not be included in the DXF/DWG file, resulting in no drawing data being imported when this option is selected.

Default Line Width

  • The default line width that will be applied when a line object in the source AutoCAD file does not include width data.

Scale

The Units scaling is used when importing data from the DXF/DWG file. If possible, choose the Unit option that matches the units used in the source data file as specified when the source file was originally generated. An incorrect unit selection will usually result in a obvious scaling error when the file is imported.

  • 1 AutoCAD unit = – The indicated scaling dimension will dynamically change according to the selected units option. You can also enter a custom scale setting – the units setting will change to other.
    The associated Size text shows the projected, scaled size of the imported graphics, in both Imperial and Metric units.
Source DXF/DWG files that have been created with the units set to mm are more likely to scale at a 1:1 ratio when imported.

Locate AutoCAD (0,0) at

  • X and Y – Map the zero point from the imported AutoCAD drawing to the specified X/Y point on the target PCB layout.
  • Select  – Use the cursor to graphically set the import zero point on the PCB layout.

Layer Mappings and Donut To Pad Conversion table

Use this region to specify how named Layers in the AutoCAD file are mapped to Altium NEXUS Layers, and if donut shapes (arc circles) are converted to Pads.

  • Layer Mappings – lists the current input-to-output layer mappings:
    • Source Layer Name – the names of the layers in the DXF/DWG source file.
    • PCB Layer – use the drop-down menu associated with the PCB Layer entry (accessed by clicking in the cell) to select the target Altium NEXUS PCB layer. If set to Not Imported, the importer will ignore the related source layer.
  • ​Donut To Pad Conversion – when enabled by the below settings, arc circles (donuts) will be converted to pads that are sized to match the donut outline (outer diameter). 
    • Conversion Condition – use the drop-down menu associated with the Conversion Condition entry (accessed by clicking in the cell) to select when a donut is converted to a pad. This can be set for All donuts to be converted or None, or only those donuts that are above or below (Larger Than, Smaller Than) a specified size. See Outer Diameter.
    • Outer Diameter – enter a donut outer diameter size, or use the drop-down menu options (accessed by clicking in the cell) to specify the size condition for the Larger/Smaller Than donut to Pad conversion.
  • Right-click Menu – right-click context menu options apply to the currently selected table row.
    • Layer options – conversion target layers arranged in functional groups (Signal, Mechanical, etc.). Use the sub-menus from each group to select the mapped layer. If set to Not Imported, the importer will ignore the related source layer.
    • Convert... - the options are the same that are available from the drop-down menu associated with each Conversion Condition entry (see above).

Additional Controls 

  • Load Settings – click to load import mapping and donut conversion settings from an existing *.ini file.
  • Save Settings – click to save the current import mapping and donut conversion settings to a plain text *.ini file.

Tips

The following DWG/DXF object types are supported when importing a design into or exporting a design from Altium design software:

  • Arc
  • Circle
  • Dimension
  • Ellipse
  • Insert
  • Leader
  • Line
  • Multileader
  • Multiline
  • Multitext
  • Point
  • Polyline
  • Rectangle
  • Region
  • Solid
  • Spline
  • Text
  • Trace
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