Interactive NX translations – opening an AutoCAD Drawing

In this article, we will investigate opening an existing AutoCAD drawing. We’ll be using NX11.

Generally, when translating a foreign file into NX for the first time, there are always options as to how NX is to “map” the original objects into corresponding NX objects. And initially, you can get results that, well, just won’t cut it. But with patience and persistence, a user can find that the resulting drawing in NX will look and print or plot to look nearly identical to the original. This allows for a fairly clean migration from the source CAD system into NX without having to redraw or recreate the drawings.

Just to cover yourself and avoid possible pitfalls where mistakes could be made unknowingly, it is usually best to “revise” the drawing, that is, to rerelease the drawing with the next revision level, once it has been migrated into NX, just in case.

Step 1:  Open a non-NX part file: We will simply open an AutoCAD drawing (DWG) file and the AutoCAD DXF/DWG Import Wizard will execute the translation.

a. Choose File->Open or the icon.

b. Change the Type filter near the bottom of the dialog from “.prt” to “.dwg”. AutoCAD “DWG” files now appear in the list.

c. Select a “.dwg” file.

d. Choose The Import Wizard dialog appears.

e. Confirm the NX File Units is Inches, since that’s what we want

f. Sometimes you have to drag the bottom border of the dialog lower to see more of the Options in the upper portion. The upper portion may or may not stretch down as well to show all the options.

g. If so, you can collapse the bottom group and then drag the bottom border of the dialog down and it will stretch the upper group downward.

This is a little nuance that can sometimes mislead you into missing some important options. When bringing multiple DWG files into NX, it will remember the dialog settings and sizing, so that’s cool.

h. Change the “Send Model Data to” option to “Drawing Sheet” as shown.

i. Choose If you’ve ever opened this file in NX before and haven’t deleted the NX part that it generated, NX will pop up an alert asking you if you want to overwrite the previous NX file.

j. Choose OK


NX begins the internal translation process and starts converting AutoCAD objects into NX objects as determined by the options set in the Wizard. When finished, some geometry and dimensions might appear in the graphics area.

k. Fit the view.

The Fit command will not zoom back any further than the size of a Drawing Sheet that was created due to that option being set in the Wizard options.

I. Zoom back to see all of the objects.

Now we see all the dimensions and geometry but obviously, it doesn’t fit onto the Drawing Sheet. We’ll keep checking things out anyway.

m. Expand the Groups node in the Part Navigator by clicking the plus (+) to the left of it.

Now we see lots of groups that are basically just little clusters of curves.

n. Select one of them and on the drawing sheet we see some curves highlight that represent a little lock bracket.

But there are no Drawing Views and no real dimensions, only notes and lines and “Assorted Parts”.

This is not acceptable for the data that exists in the selected AutoCAD file. Different options need to be used in the Wizard process.

o. We close the file.


Step 2- Repeat the process with different settings.

a. Open the same .dwg file again. (filter will remain set to “.dwg”)

b. Select the Inches option again but this time we’ll also set the Options as follows:

c. Select Next twice or choose the “Fonts” step in the process list. Depending on the source of these drawings, you don’t know how things were created in AutoCAD until you explore the options in this translation process. But it’s predictable and controllable. Here is some font mapping.

d. Set all of the existing font definitions to Blockfont except for the bottom 2 in the list,“AMGDT”. They are system controlled and can’t be changed. Change fonts by selecting a font style in the list and then picking Blockfont in the popup below.

You can use the Page Up and Page Down keyboard buttons to quickly get up or down to the Blockfont entry in the font list.

e. Once all fonts are set to Blockfont except for the bottom two AMGDT font styles, you could go on to the other available options for layers, etc. We’ll just move on.

f. Choose Finish

Again, NX begins the internal translation process and starts converting AutoCAD objects as determined by the options set in the Wizard. Even the initial result is much better.

Two Drawing Sheets were created, one with a single Member View that contains a Sketch which contains all of the curves of the “model” and another which translated all curves onto the actual Drawing Sheet but added only the “model” curves to a Sketch.

g. Open the 2nd It’s a much better result than our previous try but still, not perfect.

h. However, if we zoom into the objects that appear to be dimensions and place the cursor over them, we find they really are NX Dimensions!

This would be typical of the process of opening a vendor’s or customer’s drawing when it comes from something other than NX. Like Forrest’s box of chocolates, you just never know what your’e gonna get!

But once this process is repeated, exploring all the options, a setting can be identified that yields the best result and it will be repeatable, from that particular source, at least.

 Translation of drawing data from all the various non-NX source systems can require a bit of investigation to find the ideal settings. However, NX does offer all those options for that very purpose – to accommodate the wide variety of practices and legacy era of all the users and practices being used. Remember, NX has roots that go back 50 years or more and, generally, accommodates the business processes you might need regardless of where you came from.





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