A better way to export SVG files from Alibre Xpress (for Ponoko!)

I wrote in here of an extremely convoluted way of exporting Alibre Design files into SVG for laser cutting with Ponoko.  There were a couple of problems…and of course after some googling there was a better way!

(Note this is a generic DXF to SVG conversion and is applicable to many other CAD programs such as AutoCAD, Unigraphics, Catia, SolidWorks etc and is not limited to Alibre Xpress)

First of all what were the problems?

Firstly, as I said, its convoluted and tedious…

Secondly, by looking at the exported SVG files carefully I noticed the flightofideas plugin converted curves to polygons.  This could become a problem on parts that need to fit snuggly together.  I’ve been bitten by poor approximation of curves/splines to polygons before so I’ll hate to make the same mistake again.

Enter Kabeja!

Kabeja is an open source utility/plugin/library for converting DXF’s to various output formats including (mainly) SVG!  You can read more about it on the main webpage but it has allowed me to open DXF’s exported from Alibre in Inkscape 🙂

Yup, thats right, its an Inkscape Plugin too.  But i don’t use it that way, I use the command line/GUI version for some bizarre reason.  Yes I’m just weird.

To use it from the command line, simply go to the directory you unzipped your Kabeja to (it should contain a launcher.jar file) and type :-

java -jar launcher.jar -nogui -pipeline svg yourfilein.dxf yourfileout.svg

Or if you prefer it with the GUI, just type :-

java -jar launcher.jar

Of course you need a JRE installed, just download one from Sun if you don’t have one…


If you’re using this for the same reason I am, i.e. to get a decent SVG out for a laser cut, do NOT open the resultant SVG file from Inkscape!  I scratched my head long and hard, googled for hours to find out why Kabeja scaled the SVG to fit to an portrait A4 sheet…with no results.  Why?  Its not Kabeja’s fault really.

IMPORT the resultant SVG file into Inkscape.  You can even import it onto one of Ponoko’s starter kit for a headscape!  Happy Ponoko’ing!

4 thoughts on “A better way to export SVG files from Alibre Xpress (for Ponoko!)”

  1. Hi, great tutorial.

    I found that I needed to set the Alibre dimension scale to mm and then after importing to inkscape I needed to resize the whole imported group to the correct size. Are you experiencing the same thing or do you think I’m doing something wrong?

    thanks in advance

    1. With the new Inkscape, there’s no need to do anything fancy anymore.

      Simply export as DXF from Alibre… Import/Open from Inkscape and make sure the ‘Scale to A4’ [Or similar] option is NOT checked. Then you don’t have to do any rescaling 🙂

        1. I’m using V12.1 and 0.47. Did you check the ‘Scale to A4’ on the import option is not turned on?

          Or you can do what I used to do… put a known size frame around the object and export that from Alibre….then scale it in Inkscape since you know the exact dimension of the rectangular frame.

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