Exporting a DXF from SolidWorks with “No-Kerf” Cuts

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Here at SendCutSend, hundreds of hours have been spent making sure things like kerf compensation happen automatically on every cut we make. That said, there are times when a narrow “no-kerf” cut (our fiber laser kerf width is .008”-.040”, depending on material and thickness) can be useful: 

  • Nesting patterns within a single part
  • Slits for a sieve, filter, or flow straightener
  • An art piece with some 2D to 3D features

Here is an example of a part with reliefs cut to allow for bending by hand:

The applications for a no-kerf cut are nearly limitless, so keep reading to learn how to create and export a DXF from Solidworks with no-kerf cuts specified. 

Setting up your file in SolidWorks

In SolidWorks exporting a DXF for upload to SendCutSend is as easy as a “save as” command, but for the system to properly identify no-kerf cuts, there are a couple steps you’ll have to take.

The method outlined below will save you from having to make a drawing, then specify discrete layers, or worse; try and import your DXF into a secondary program to change a line color. 

Let’s use the pattern from the part in the picture. Below you can see the part with a sketch on the top face.

Image of the same part from the previous two images but as a 2D sketch in Solidworks. All lines in the sketch are the same color

The issue we run into when saving this as a DXF is that there is no option to specify different colors for different features. 

As you can see in the preview window, the outline of the part and the sketch are the same color. 

Image of the example part in the Preview Window, showing the outline and cut lines. All lines in the sketch are the same color

Sheet Metal Magic

To fix this, we can simply convert this part to sheet metal. Select “Insert > Sheet Metal > Convert to Sheet Metal”

Image of the dropdown menus in Solidworks with "Convert to Sheet Metal" highlighted with a red box around it

Next select the top face, and your desired metal thickness or gauge. 

Image of the dialogue box for Sheet Metal Rules in Solidworks to define the sheet metal parameters.

At this point, if you were to jump ahead and save this as a DXF, you’d realize that the no-kerf sketch is still the same color as the part outline. To fix this we need to do a little property edit. 

Fix System Options

System options can be overwhelming in a program like SolidWorks, but in this case it’s super simple: In the “Save As” dialog, select DXF and hit the “Options” button. Finally, check “Enable” in “Custom Map SOLIDWORKS to DXF/DWG”

Image of the "Save As" dialog box with "Enable" selected under "Custom Map SOLIDWORKS to DXF/DWG"

Now when you click “Save” you get a fancy new dialog box that allows you to map which features export into DXF and also allows you to change their color properties individually.

Image of the mapping specifications dialog box that opens when you save a DXF from Solidworks, with red circles around "Geometry", "Sketches," and "No-Kerf"

Note: Make sure you select both “Geometry” (the default) and “Sketches” in the “Entities To Export” options within the DXF Output dialog. 

Define and Export

You’ll notice that each cell under the “Define” and “Map” headings can be edited either by directly typing, or selecting from a drop-down menu.

Under “Define Layers” name the layers to differentiate the no-kerf geometry from your main outline and any closed-curve cuts by using “SCS_NOKERF” to name the sketch.

Image of the same dialog box from earlier with the No-Kerf cuts differentiated in a different layer than the sketch

Under the “Layer” column in “Map Entities” you can select your newly-defined layer designations. Then move to the “Entity” column and select the Geometry and Sketches to match.

Image of the same dialog box from the previous image but with a color gradient selection box open next to "my no-kerf cut"

Select the color you like, and hit OK. In the cleanup preview you’ll see the geometry in white, and the sketch in your color of choice. Save it where you can find it.

Image of the preview window in Solidworks with the example part shown in outline mode. The outer cut lines and no-kerf cut lines are now two different colors: white and red.

You are now free to upload the newly-colored DXF file to the SendCutSend instant quote tool.

The last step is to tell us what to do with the color. 

Screenshot of the order screen for SendCutSend with "No Kerf" written in the Item Description box

Simply leave a note in the Item Description that says “No Kerf”

Don’t be alarmed that the part preview doesn’t show the color you went through all that work to apply; it’s in greyscale. 

And you’re done. Now go design something amazing and cook it up with SendCutSend lasers!

Preflight Checklist

Before you upload your design files, be sure to go through our pre-flight checklist:

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Flush Standoff, 4-40, .250" Zinc plus Clear Chromate

Thread Size4-40 x .250″
Hole size in sheet (+0.003/-.0.000).168″
Minimum sheet thickness0.040″
Maximum sheet thickness.125″
Fastener materialSteel
Minimum distance hole C/L to edge0.230″
When determining the distance between two or more fasteners, you can calculate the distance by the formula, C/L to edge + 1/2 the diameter of the second mounting hole..314″
Recommended panel materialSteel/Aluminum
Coating typeZinc
Aluminum material ranges (5052, 6061, 7075)0.040″-0.125″
Steel material ranges (CRS, HRPO, HR)0.048″-0.119″