View Full Version : AUTOCAD to LW?

12-19-2003, 12:29 PM
i am completly new here and with LW.
Can I import autocad files to LW to create
lte's say a Home plan into 3d?

There is any tutorial on how to do that?

how do i have to ask for the autocad files?

DXF? etc?



12-22-2003, 11:19 AM
If it is a solid model done in Autocad, forget about it! You can export a .sat file from Autocad but then you are going to need Polytrans, Deep Exploration, Rhino, or some other program to turn the .sat file into a dxf or lwo file. Only Autodesk products can read native Autocad 3d files.

Deep Exploration or Studio Max are good for converting Autocad files and produce the most refined mesh. You may have a problem with reversed polygons with either; after importing the mesh into LW.

Your best bet is to start fresh in LW. It will produce the most efficient mesh. If you are use to using alot of fillets and chamfers in Autocad you will be **** out of luck in LW unless you get the Rounder plugin or learn how to use sub-d's; Rounder works well.

The good news is that LW has one of the best rendering engine; its the final results that matter.

12-22-2003, 11:46 AM
I made this render in Lightwave from a CADKEY export. I first exported it as an ".stl" file. Most CAD packages can do this. I then used a plug-in for Lightwave from a user named "Chrome Cow" to import it. If you do a search you can probably find his post with the link to his plug-in. I then used qemmloss to reduce the polygon count. Chamfers and Fillets are affected by how many times you use it. This is the result:

12-22-2003, 02:56 PM
What version of Cadkey are you using? Ck19 was the last version to output polygon meshes. WS20 - 21.5 all export polyline meshes.

I'm hoping that you are using a new version of Cadkey because the only way I can get something into Lightwave is to export the Sat file into CK19 and generate the mesh in there. It's a lot of work and level separation is lost.

Meanwhile, I'll take a look for that plug-in.

Thanks in advance for any additional pointers you may have...

12-22-2003, 04:12 PM
You are right. I used Cadkey 19. I don't like WS20 and WS21. We dropped our Annual Upgrade Contract because of those buggy releases and the whole CK99 to WS20 "time to release" problem. We now use only CK19 as the highest release we will ever use. Our CAD package of choice is now SolidWorks. You are also correct about the whole level issue. I moved everything by hand using the select all related polygons and doing a cut and paste.

12-22-2003, 05:03 PM
Thanks, handron. BTW, WS21.5 is remarkably powerful. I don't use its layout mode, I just use it as a modeler. But as you said, the path from CK19 onward was filled with frustration.

12-23-2003, 08:29 AM
Can anyone say why Lightwave doesnt support .dwg or dxf file format natively?
Is there a royalty on these?

12-23-2003, 09:53 AM
I had always thought that Cadkey was a wonderful and powerful modeler. The problem is for me, once you create the model its associativity with anything was weak. Example: Layout mode. Solidworks provides a good balance for us. Although, its not without its own frustrations. :)

To go with Ade's thought, I would love to see Lightwave import a few of the main CAD formats with minimal clean up someday. What a presentation tool it would make. Solidworks comes with a photoreal add-on but it's real basic.

12-23-2003, 04:27 PM
All the new appz like Rhino and Solid Thinking all support dwg, it seems older apps lile LW dont..Why is this?
Its such a good market to support.

12-24-2003, 03:23 AM
Can anyone say why Lightwave doesnt support .dwg or dxf file format natively?

Lightwave does support DXF.
It's true the importer is not perfect but generally it converts DXF layers
in Lightwave surfaces so it's not too long to get back your model or scene layout.

Sometimes it happens the import of DXF does'nt work correctly or even at all,
know then that there are few Lscripts on Flay.com that allows better
DXF import.
I don't say I would'nt like improvements on that point and especially yes,
a DWG importer…

By the way, a new importer of Illustrator files should be released with LW 8,
let's hope it is more powerfull that the current .eps import.
(in some cases EPS might be better than CAD formats like DXF as generally curves are only bezier splines in EPS, so that you can control yourself their tesselation whe importing in LW, while with CAD files you often get bad surprises whith incredibly
heavy curves…)

12-24-2003, 10:38 AM
Just to clarify my thought: I realize that Lightwave will import .dxf 2D patterns generally well, but I would like to see a full 3D import.

12-24-2003, 05:30 PM
I find that u have to correctly scale the .dxf first before u import it.

DWG files have layers and are more correct tan dxf am i correct in saying it has more advantages?

12-24-2003, 06:24 PM
Hi Ade-
Scaling the dxf file before importing into LW sounds like a good idea.

My understanding is that DWG is a proprietary file format that Autocad will not reveal to others, and that DXF is an open format freely available to others.

In my experience, a dxf file is larger than its dwg counterpart.

Layers are retained in the dxf format. The two formats appear to me to result in the exact same file when imported.


12-26-2003, 10:16 AM
My understanding is that DWG is a proprietary file format that Autocad will not reveal to others

Illustrator imports/exports it, like most of CAD tools,
it may not be free for an editor to get that but
who can say he will continue to work seriously without such a standard.

It's known also that DWG is lighter and more stable (you lose less
infos when you import a DWG than a DXF)…

12-27-2003, 09:42 AM
I too have been wondering about .DWG import. I gave up looking for a direct route some time ago.
For the programmers out there who don't know, the DWG format itself is described extensively at: http://www.opendwg.org/
I'm pretty sure an import plugin could be made, however, I'm no programmer.

In the mean time, my chosen route is via trueSpace, I can open .DWG's up to ACAD2000 format, then export to a good variety of formats. In my case, I normally chose .OBJ and bring in each of the object components into LW as separate layers.

In my opinion, LW's lack of .DWG import is pretty serious for anyone who's into architectural visualisation. The MAX boys love to rub that in too. I suppose the majority of LW users don't venture into Arch. Viz. so Newtek, or any 3rd party hasn't picked up on format.


12-27-2003, 12:34 PM
I suppose the majority of LW users don't venture into Arch. Viz.

Not that less !
A poll launched few weeks ago (if we can credit some trust in polls)
showed that LW was used at 15% for archi Viz
what is quite enough I think to ask for such basic function (import DWG).

When for more LW's Modeler has so few formats available at import
there is no excuse for this lack and yes that gives more reason to want to
switch for some MAX solution for example…

I'm wondering if Lightwave is expensive enough to at the same time
be able to give us several functions that misses too much and that other
softs have for years…!
well… this general subject of what we architectural illustrators need has been
treated so many times…

02-14-2004, 04:04 AM
ok, you can't directly import dwg files.

1. if you want to import 3d files form autocad.

- Then i suggest you export your *.dwg to *.3ds, and load it in modeler (after scaling of course app.10 if you draw in cm,...)

Note :In ordor to use the 3ds -import you 'll need to load the plugin. from input-output.

Note :3ds-format are just surfaces. No solids !!!

- The problem is that you will have to manually check your normals. I you don't really care about rendering time. You can check render double side in the material browser.
If you do care you van export each 'layer' from autocad to a 3ds. That makes it much easier for you to check those normals, while lightwave will put all your surfaces in one layer (read: you loose control).

- You 'll then have your *.dwg file in modeler.
- ....

2. If you want to load 2d-files from autocad. You use the dxf-extension. But this is such a hasle. What I do when I really, (really!?) need to import 2d-dwg-files:
use the dxf and draw everything over it in modeler.

Last Note:
- thinking about rendering times. It is better to draw in modeler. But some people are much more experienced in drawing 3d in autocad. For example 3d-vis for architecture goes much quicker drawing in autocad, then moddeler. If you only need a couple of shots, and you find your way in autocad, it is great.
On the other hand you will 'experience' very small differences in render times (espec. with global illumination).
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