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    By Justin Doughty

    With the Introduction of AutoCAD 2017 came the excellent feature to import and convert vector based PDF files into AutoCAD geometry.

    This can be very useful when sharing designs between departments or even businesses.

    My colleague Clint Brown produced the following article on this:


    However what if you do want your design to be used or converted in AutoCAD 2017? The design could be protected in some way, or maybe you do not want to give your design to someone who may change it.

    If we are not worried about format we could use Autodesk’s DWF format instead, this is generally smaller in file size that PDF and can be viewed easily in many ways.

    If PDF is needed, then we need to create a raster based PDF file which cannot be converted. To do this inside of AutoCAD use the following settings.

    In the Plot setup go to “Shaded viewport options” and just change this from the default “As displayed” to Hidden, Realistic or Shaded:

    This will create a raster PDF file. You will notice however the file size is a lot larger than a vector PDF. For example a drawing that makes a 150kb vector PDF file, will make around a 1mb raster PDF file.

    A quick way to decrease the file size, is to set the Quality to Preview:

    If you then want to manually tweak the quality/file size further, you can edit the PDF Options below:

    With a bit testing, you can balance quality and file size to something acceptable. In my testing the drawing used, created a 167kb vector file, using Hidden and settings the PDF Options to 350x350 dpi, gave a readable 400kb raster PDF that cannot be converted.



  • Avatar
    Nathan Wood

    Justin - From the General Contractor's perspective, this is just about the worst possible deliverable that we could be given. This offers no opportunities for collaboration between designers and builders. I'm curious what your motivation is to strip all of your valuable data out of your design deliverable? Is it driven by contract language?

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    Allen Angle

    We didn't need AutoCAD 2017 to convert and import vector based PDF files into AutoCAD geometry, that has been going on for years. This seems to be a slightly overprotective stance for the design, I am assuming intellectual properties rights on the design is the fear here? What about all the actual metadata being lost by dumbing down the PDF? At this point it's still an electronic document but about as dumb as a printed sheet.

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    Nigel Davies

    You're kidding me? This is an insular 19th century attitude that has no place in today's construction industry. It's not about whether your drawings can be imported into AutoCAD (you can do that with any number of free tools) it's about whether the data contained in that document can be better leveraged downstream.

  • Avatar
    Justin Doughty

    Hi all, I am pleased this has generate such a discussion. The aim of this was to give people the option of protecting their data. I agree this would be less useful in a BIM environment, however AutoCAD can be used for anything. People designing products may think differently.

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