Create SOLIDWORKS Reference Sketches from 2D DXF/DWG Files

Article by Ben Crisostomo, CSWE updated December 30, 2019


Being able to work with different file types is crucial to working with other clients using other programs. There are a large number of companies who use DWG & DXF files for creating CNC files of documentation. These files can be great for SOLIDWORKS users to use a reference when trying to design parts in SOLIDWORKS.  With this in mind, we can now create reference sketches from 2D DXF/DWG files in SOLIDWORKS 2020. Let’s take a closer look to see how it works.

Importing DXF/DWG File

When opening a DXF or DWG file, the Import Dialog Box opens providing the user with options deciding on the format of the file. Inder the 2D sketch option, there is a setting that allows the sketch to be imported as a reference as seen below.

Import as reference Option

Reference sketches are locked an cannot be edited. The pencil superimposed with a black no sign indicates that the sketch is for reference as seen below.

Reference Sketch as indicated by the Pencil Icon

A sketch can be toggled back into a regular sketch by right-clicking the sketch and selecting “Make Edit Sketch” from the drop down menu. It should be noted that creating a reference sketch is not limited to DXF/DWG files. Right-clicking a sketch made in SOLIDWORKS and selecting “Make Reference Sketch” will change the sketch type.

Toggle Between Reference & Edit Sketch

Using the reference sketch geometry to define the position, offset & convert entities will work, but mirroring items must use a drawing in the construction line. I found that creating the dimensions for a barrel bridge of a watch was easy using a reference drawing as seen in the images below.

Referenced Positions in Sketch

Reference Sketch application

I found the Reference Sketch useful for designing parts that are interconnected. Having the ability to create Reference Sketches from 2D DXF/DWG files in SOLIDWORKS 2020 is a welcome addition to SOLIDWORKS and I am excited to see how this feature will be applied in the future!

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Ben Crisostomo

Ben is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Application Expert based in the Javelin Oakville head office