SOLIDWORKS to Adobe Illustrator

Have you ever noticed you can save a SOLIDWORKS file as an Adobe Illustrator file (.AI)?  Well, it works, but it’s not exactly as good as it sounds.  The entire purpose of Adobe Illustrator is to edit vector graphics.  However, when you save a SW file as an .AI file, it’s the same as saving it as a .JPG and then dragging that into an .AI file (i.e. it exports a raster image – no vectors).  It’s OK though because there’s another process that works perfectly:

  1. Create a drawing of your SW part/assembly in the orientation that you’d like it to appear in Illustrator.
  2. Save your SW drawing file as a .DXF.
  3. Import your .DXF into Illustrator.
  4. Voila!

You can now fully edit the vector version of your drawing view that you created in SolidWorks.  This means you can edit the stroke sizes independently, you can fill areas with solid colors and gradients, you can apply special filters and effects to the image, and anything else you might be able to do in Illustrator.

So that’s the solution for the guy that makes a handful of technical publications a year.  Beyond that, modifying all of your CAD pubs in Illustrator can become very inefficient.  What happens if a change is made to the solid model?  What if you’d like to reorient the angle of the view?  What if you’d like to move a few of the components around?  To deal with any of these questions, you’d have to go back to SOLIDWORKS and start the entire process over again from scratch – making your previous hard work obsolete and useless.

The answer: 3DVia Composer.  I’ve been using this product for a few months now and I love it!

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