In this day and age, many industries rely on computer-aided design (CAD) software to create drafts and models for their products. A large number of engineers, architects, and mechanical designers produce their drawings as DXF, DWG, STEP, and some other types of files.

If you are new to industrial design, learn what DXF is, how to open a DXF file, and a lot more in this article.  

What Is a DXF File?

DXF stands for Drawing Exchange Format or Drawing Interchange Format. It is a popular CAD drawing file format commonly called AutoCAD DXF. A DXF file is a vector file with which you can edit individual objects or elements.

The DXF file format was developed by Autodesk and intended to interchange drawing data between AutoCAD and other programs. To be specific, DXF files are open-source and accessible without AutoCAD, which makes them different from files in DWG, a proprietary file format for the AutoCAD software.

DXF files are created with the .dxf extension and widely used to share 2D and 3D designs across different CAD programs.  

DXF Viewer: How to Open DXF Files

To open a DXF file, a DXF viewer is essential. Most CAD software like Autodesk AutoCAD allows users to open, view, and even edit DXF files. They can also export DXF files as other types of documents such as images. Here is a list of some DXF file viewers.

  1. Autodesk Viewer: a free online viewer for most 2D and 3D drawings including AutoCAD DXF, DWG, STEP, SolidWorks, etc.
  2. AutodeskDWG TrueView: a Windows-based free file viewer enabling users to open, view, and plot DXF, DWG, and other CAD files. 
  3. eDrawings Viewer: SOLIDWORKS, DWG, and DXF viewer for Windows, Mac, iOS,and Android.
  4. Adobe Illustrator: a DXF file viewer for Windows and Mac.
  5. LibreCAD: afree, open-source, and compatible with Linux, macOS, and Windows OS.
  6. ShareCAD: a free online DXF and other CAD design viewer.

To open a DXF file, follow the similar guide: go to “File” > “Open”, select the DXF file and import it into the programs above. If you want to view DXF files via a web browser, open the online DXF viewers and upload them with an internet connection.

In addition, you have the option of converting the CAD format to PDF for checking the design. When you have opened a DXF file within the mentioned software, go to “File” > “Print”, “Export as”, or a similar option, choose PDF as the exported format, and save it as a PDF document.

What Is a DXF File Used for?

People from a wide range of industries use DXF files for storing drawing data during product design. They are especially preferred for data sharing or interoperability. Some industries that use DXF files include, but are not limited to:

  • Architecture where fire escapes, load-bearing beams, and other structural components are sketched with DXF drawings  
  • Mechanical manufacturing, for example, DXF files for laser cutting or plasma cutting machine design
  • City planning: use DXF files to visualize the streets, buildings, green areas, etc



Susy has worked with PDF tools for more than 5 years. During the past time, PDF software is of huge assistance in increasing her productivity. She joined SwifDoo PDF one year ago and works as an editor now. Based on a lot of research and tests, Susy can offer users professional and practical solutions to PDF issues.