How To Use DXF Files in Silhouette Studio (Basic Edition)

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I have had a lot of fun using the Silhouette Cameo 3 for crafting since the past few years making stickers, 3D pop-up cards, shadowbox cards, matchbox cards and more. I made my own templates in Illustrator and exported the DXF files. I would then import the DXF file to the Silhouette Studio Basic Edition and cut the design.

Other file formats that work with the Silhouette Studio Basic Edition include PNG, JPEG and Studio files. If you are planning to purchase designs from marketplaces like Etsy, DesignBundles chances are that designers don’t offer Studio files. This is because Studio files are a proprietary software file type and can only be found in the Silhouette Design Store. If you have the Silhouette Studio Designer Edition then SVG files can also be imported.

For cutting cardstock or vinyl, we can use DXF files. Alternatively, we can also trace the design from a PNG or JPEG file (image file types) and cut. For best results use high-resolution PNG files while tracing the design. But I prefer using DXF files as they are easier to work with.

Ready to upload DXF files to Silhouette Studio software? The tutorial is in two parts. In Part-1 we will go over the basics of the software and file types. In Part-2 we will learn how to import and use DXF files in Silhouette Studio.

Make sure to pin this Silhouette tutorial for your future reference.

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Part 1 – Basics of Software and File Types

Silhouette Studio is the downloadable software program developed by Silhouette America that can be installed on our computers/laptops to connect with Silhouette Cameo or Curio cutting machines.

The Basic Edition of the Silhouette Studio is free. You can download it here. Always remember to update your software to get the most out of your cutting machine. With their recent update, v4.3.372*, the rendering of the DXF file has improved a lot. This, in turn, helps cut the design more quickly.

* version number may vary by the time you are reading this post.

With the Basic Edition of the software, we can’t use SVG files. We need to upgrade the software to Designer Edition to be able to use SVG files. 

The main advantage of using DXF & SVG files is that we can increase the size of the design without any loss of quality unlike image files such as PNG and JPEG.

If you are buying your DXF files from online marketplaces such as Etsy or DesignBundles or downloading for free, chances are that they come in a zipped folder. The reason being, designers offer designs in multiple file formats such as SVG, DXF, JPEG, PNG, and more. As crafters use different cutting machines(Cricut, Silhouette, etc.) and every machine type works with a different file format, putting all the files in a zipped folder helps. In this scenario, we need to unzip the folder first.

In Windows, you can either use external programs such as 7zip(my favorite) or WinZip to extract the files or simply right-click on the zipped folder and select the “Extract All” option to extract the files to your desired location.

1 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Unzip Folder - Extract All Option
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If you are a Windows 10 user it is better to enable the file extensions in your folder options. This will help you identify file formats. To enable this option, open any folder and click on “File” -> Select “Change folder and search options”. This will pop-up a window called “Folder Options”, click on “View” tab -> uncheck the option “Hide extensions for known file types” -> click “OK”. Now we can see the extension of any file in your computer/laptop. For example, your downloaded folder should show the DXF file as “filename.dxf”.

2 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Change folder and search options
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3 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Hide extensions for known file types
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4 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - DXF file
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Part 2 – How to use DXF files in Silhouette Studio?

Step 1 – Importing the DXF file

Open Silhouette Studio software, a blank canvas with 12-inch * 12-inch dimensions opens up. Click on “File” -> select the “Merge…” option, this will pop up a file browser window. Go to the unzipped design folder and select the DXF file of the design and click on “Ok”. This will import the design as an outline in black color into your blank canvas.

5 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Importing DXF file using Merge option
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6 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Importing the DXF file
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7 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Imported Design in outlines
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If you like the design I used in this tutorial, you can download it for free from my mama needs wine blog post.

Step 2 – Working with DXF file

We can now see that the design has been imported as an outline. First, we will work on the design to make compound paths and then resize the design before cutting.

Creating a Compound Path

If you are cutting the design in one layer then select all elements of the design using the “Select” tool (looks like a mouse cursor located on the top left corner of the Silhouette Studio). 

Once the “Select” tool is selected hold your left-mouse-button at the corner of the design and select all elements. Alternatively, you can press the “Ctrl/Cmd + A” buttons of your keyboard.

8 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Select Tool and Design Selection
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Now right-click with your mouse on the design and select the “Make Compound Path” option. This will weld all elements of the design together and create a compound path.

9 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Make Compound Path
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To resize, click on the “Select” tool and click anywhere on the design (or press the “Ctrl/Cmd + A” buttons of your keyboard). Adjust the size of the design as per your requirement by changing “W” and “H” values. Lock the aspect ratio of the design to maintain the proportion W:H while resizing.

10 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Resize
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To fill color to the design, click on the “Fill Panel” icon located on the right side of the Silhouette Studio. “Fill” panel opens, select a color under the “Fill color” section.

11 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Single Layer Colors
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Creating Multiple Compound Paths

If you are planning to cut the design in multiple layers, we need to create multiple paths from our imported design. 

For example, in this tutorial, I am using the Mama Needs Wine design. Let’s say we want the words and the wine glass silhouette separately.

To do that, from the design we select the words – “Mama Needs Wine” using “Select” tool and by holding “Shift” key of your keyboard. Then click on the elements you want to group.

12 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Multilayer Mama Needs Wine
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Now right-click with your mouse on the selected design word(s)/element(s) and select the “Make Compound Path” option. This will weld the word(s)/element(s) together into a single path.

13 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Multilayer Mama Needs Wine Path
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Repeat the above steps till you create the required layers. For our example, we do this two times, once for the words and another for the wine glass.

To resize the design : Group all paths by pressing the “Ctrl/Cmd + A” buttons of your keyboard and right-click on the design with your mouse. Select the “Group” option, to group the paths together.

14 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Multilayer Group
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Click on the “Select” tool and click anywhere on the design or by pressing the “Ctrl/Cmd + A” buttons of your keyboard. Adjust the size of the design as per your requirement by changing “W” and “H” values. Lock the aspect ratio of the design to maintain the proportion W:H while resizing.

15 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Multilayer Resize
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To fill colors to the design, Ungroup the paths by right-clicking on the design with your mouse and select “Ungroup” option.

16 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Multilayer ungroup
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Select a path, click on the “Fill Panel” icon located on the right side of the Silhouette Studio. “Fill” panel opens, select a color under the “Fill color” section. Repeat the same for other paths (like the wine glass in this example).

17 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Multilayer colors 1
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18 - How To Use DXF files in Silhouette Studio - Multilayer colors Final
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To print the design, click on “File”->”Print” or click on the printer icon in the tool bar. To cut the design, click on “Send” (top right corner of the software).

Now you know how to use DXF files in Silhouette Studio. You are amazing! To download more DXF files head over to the cut files section of the blog.

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4 thoughts on “How To Use DXF Files in Silhouette Studio (Basic Edition)”

  1. Thank you kindly for the prompt reply: seems to be scaling correctly.

    Will know more once I cut it.

    PS: What settings do you use for poster boards, like the ones you get at the Dollar Store? I’ve tried it and it did not completely cut through.
    Card-stock, textured – Heavy (80lb)
    Blade dept Number 5
    Force 30
    Speed 4

    Reply
    • Hi Patrick,

      The exact settings can vary depending on a number of factors so it’s best to do a test cut. Please make sure that the blade is sharp. Try using double cut i.e., two passes with the settings – Blade 5, Speed 2. I suggest decreasing the speed to cut thicker materials. Keep the Line Segment Overcut option checked with extensions set to 0.1 mm to make sure the cuts are clean at the corners. If it doesn’t cut all the way through, set the Blade to 6 and repeat the process till you get the exact settings that works for you.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Hello,

    I’m new to using Silhouette Studio and I just bought a Cameo 4. The problem I’m having is that the scale of the object I’m opening or merging, does not keep its dimension from the drafting program I use Microsoft Visio and then I save as a a .dxf file.

    Once its in Studio the dimension our way off (i.e.: visio = 1.2in and studio = 1.6 in).

    Can you tell me what am I missing or doing wrong?

    I design and build paper 3 models and the reason I bought the Cameo was to cut down in the time it takes to cut the pieces.

    Thank you kindly,

    Patrick

    Reply
    • Hi Patrick,

      I think the issue is that the design dimensions are changing to fit the page instead of being imported as is. Please try the following in your Studio software : Go to Edit-> Preferences -> Import. Then select As-is in the drop down for Open under the DXF section.

      I hope this works for you.

      Reply

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