Business Edition, Designer Edition, Designer Edition Plus, Silhouette, Silhouette Projects, Uncategorized

DXF or SVG for Silhouette

The Silhouette software can open many different file types.
Which file type depends on what upgrade of the software you have.

Affiliate links may be present in the following blog post and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Here is how it is broken out by upgrade:

Silhouette Studio Basic (free at Silhouette America)
– gsd
– dxf
– jpeg
– png
– bmp

Silhouette Studio – Designer Edition upgrade
all of the above and
– svg
– pdf

Silhouette Studio – Designer Edition Plus
all of the above and
– Embroidery files (PES, DST, EXP, JEF, and XXX)

Silhouette Studio – Business Edition
all of the above and
– Ai/CDR/EPS Files

Silhouette Studio Upgrades can be found at several authorized retailers:
The Vinyl Spectrum, Swing Design, or Silhouette America.

Today we are going to explore the difference between a dxf and svg file.

So let’s first look at the definition of each.

DXF files are a file type that was created in 1982 for AutoCad program. Which just means computer assisted design. So basically a computer drawing program.
It really wasn’t designed as a “cut” file.

SVG files are scalable vector graphics. These are vector files that can be resized without losing image quality. These are “cut” files. They were created in 1999.

When you compare the 2 file types, there can be a BIG difference in the quality of a cut. While you can open DXF files with the Basic software, it can also be a big headache to cut a file. Because of the way DXF files are create, they can have massive amounts of edit points. Edit points are the data points that the Silhouette reads to complete a cut.

All these little gray dots are edit points that the Silhouette has to read to connect the dots.
For more on edit points, check out this post here – Let’s Explore v4 – Edit Points.

Here are a couple things you may experience when opening and cutting a DXF file:

It may take a lot longer to open
Let’s take a look at an example of opening a dxf file vs a svg file.
This video shows opening the above mandala file in dxf format versus svg format.
The dxf file took 38 seconds versus the svg file took just a couple seconds.
This will also vary depending on the user’s computer and the dxf file.
I have a higher than normal spec gaming computer that is used in the video below.

The software may crash or lock up when trying to open a dxf since it’s such a large data file.
Due to the data size of a dxf file versus a svg file, the software may just crash as it’s working to try to open the dxf file. This will vary by dxf file and computer.

Software is slow to respond and the computer is “thinking” more with dxf files.
Since it is a data heavy file it may take longer to make edits, resize, or work with the file in general.

A design takes forever to cut.
Since it has massive amounts of edit points, the Silhouette has to hit every single one of those to complete the cut.

The machine sounds odd cutting, like it’s stuttering.
This is because it is making short movements to connect the dots between those edit points.

The cut not completing cleanly because it has open edit points (red dots) and not complete lines
If you double click on a design, no matter the file type and you see red dots in it, there is a problem.
This means that the cut lines are not complete and it is a broken line.
This will affect how it cuts and in turn how it weeds.
I have drawn a simple rectangle below as an example- the red dot is a broken point.
The cut line does not completely connect to complete a cut.

Those broken edit points will need to be connected in order to close the shape. If the points are close together, double clicking on the red dot can close it, but if they are not, then you will need to connect the dots to close that cut line.

Shapes that have broken edit points cannot be filled with color as they really are not a “shape” but a line since it is not completely closed.

More on edit points on a dxf file

Since a dxf may have massive amounts of edit points, let’s take a look at what happens to those edit points when you scale the design down.


Here is what the file looks like when it’s originally opened & edit points are activated.
It opens at 9.528″ wide

Now if we scale that down, all of those edit points get squished closer together. They are still there but now you’ve taken those data points and squished them into a smaller space of 4.163″ wide.
Since there was already more edit points than necessary in a small space, you’ve now crowded them in even more.

In most cases, cutting this dxf file will just result in a mess of your material.

In the Edit Points Panel, there is the option to “Simplify” and you can try that, but it doesn’t always work or it may change the shape of the actual design.

Each file will be different in how it responds and reacts because they are created differently and are made up of different data.
Let’s compare another dxf file and svg file side by side.

On the left is the dxf file and the right is the svg file.
In this example, the edit points are not too crazy, however, you can still tell a noticeable difference between the dxf and the svg. The svg file is a much cleaner cut file.
Depending on the size you were to cut this file at, you may or may not notice a difference.

I highly recommend at least the Designer Edition upgrade to all Silhouette users and this is just one of the reasons why.
The upgrade will save you time, headache, and frustration in the long run.

For more information on my favorite reasons for each upgrade, check out this post
Software Upgrades My Favorite Features

I hope this has made the differences between working with dxf and svg files a little bit clearer. In my experience, the svg file is almost always the cleaner cut file to use.

We would love to see what you are working on!
Feel free post on the
Silhouette Secrets+ Facebook Group.

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