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Among our professional clients, SolidWorks is the most popular way to design custom parts. Its large feature set, long history, and extensive ecosystem make it the go-to CAD software in many industries.

In the past, we've typically recommended that our customers who use SolidWorks export a DXF file for use with Big Blue Saw's online quoting system by creating a drawing of the part to be made and then exporting a DXF from that. While that technique works reasonably well for parts that are updated frequently, there's a simpler way to create a DXF from an existing part. Hat tip to Dustin Hardy for pointing out this easier method.

In this tutorial, we'll assume that you already have a part designed in SolidWorks that can be made using waterjet or laser cutting by Big Blue Saw.

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Open the part that you want Big Blue Saw to make for you. Right click on the top face of the part and click Export to DXF / DWG.

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The Save As dialog will appear. Enter a memorable, meaningful name for your file and click Save.

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On the left hand side of the window, a tab will appear for DXF/DWG Output options. Most of the options here should be OK for most parts. Click the green checkmark button to proceed.

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The DXF/DWG Cleanup  dialog will apear. This dialog allows you to modify the drawing if SolidWorks generates extraneous entities which you don't want in the final drawing. In our case, the drawing is completely clean and requires no modifications, so we'll just click Save.

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Now you should have a brand new DXF file ready to use with Big Blue Saw's online quoting system. Upload the DXF for an instant quote on dozens of stock materials.

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Need special materials or have other requests for your order? Our customer advocates are standing by to help you. Just email us at info@bigbluesaw.com, call 678-929-7294 (678-WAY-SAW4), or contact us through the website!

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Now through šŸŽƒ October 31, you can SAVE on custom parts made from your designs. Use code SPOOKY2020 when checking out online to save 15% off custom parts made from aluminum alloy, stainless steel, polycarbonate, and other materials.

This applies to online orders only and includes regular waterjet, low-taper waterjet, and laser cut parts, with no minimum.

Upload your designs and get an instant quote now! Hurry, this discount is only good through Saturday, October 31, 2020.

Sandy Ganz shared these photos of a custom clock he's building. This 42 inch wide custom faceplate was waterjet cut by Big Blue Saw from aluminum 6061. The plan is to install old-school incandescent bulbs in a classic 7 segment display.

Need a custom faceplate? Let us waterjet cut it!

Follow Sandy Ganz on Facebook to see more.

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Michael Backus of Lightning Rods wrote in to show us some of the parts he made for performance electric vehicles.

I design and build electric bike conversions. [...] Your web site is incredible. Whatever it cost, it was well worth it.


I'm attaching a few photos of electric drives I've done since I started using your services. I'm very, very happy with every aspect of working with you. You'll be seeing much more of me in the future!

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Custom motor mounts, brackets, guards, and more: you draw it, we saw it. Contact us for all your custom part needs.

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You may have seen our earlier article on turning your Fusion 360 design into a real part using Big Blue Saw. As soon as that article was published, all the Fusion 360 fans out there let us know that there is a much easier way to get the job done. 

Based on a recent informal survey, Fusion 360 is very popular among both our professional and hobbyist clients. Hobbyists love that it's  free for personal use, and pros dig the expansive power of its built in tools for PCB design, sculpting, and generative design. After you've created your design with Fusion 360, how do you turn those designs into real parts made from aluminum, polycarbonate plastic, or another material? That's what this tutorial is about.

(Note: as I was creating this tutorial, Autodesk changed the terms of use for Fusion 360 in the hobbyist edition. Fortunately the techniques described here should still work with the free hobbyist license.)

In this tutorial, we'll look at two different procedures for making a DXF file for use with Big Blue Saw's online ordering system. The simplest procedure applies if you already have a sketch in the part design with the complete outline of the part. If you don't have a sketch with the outline of the complete part, there's easy procedure you can follow to get a clean DXF file.

If You Already Have A Sketch

Below is a bracket design, the type of part we make every day here at Big Blue Saw. 

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Note that this part is an extrusion of a single sketch. You can click the sketch in the browser to see it highlighted in the main view of the part.

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Right clicking on the sketch should give you a menu with the option to save the sketch as a DXF. Very conventiently, the DXFs that Fusion 360 makes are scaled 1:1 with no extraneous lines, formatting, or other marks. This is exactly what we need for Big Blue Saw's online quoting system. Thanks Fusion developers!

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When you click Save as DXF,  the save dialog will appear. Choose a filename for the DXF export that you'll remember, and don't forget to note which folder you saved it in.

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Now you can upload the design to Big Blue Saw's website for an instant quote and online ordering!

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If You Don't Have a Sketch

Now let's take a look at a different part. This is also the type of thing we make every day here at Big Blue Saw.

But the way it's designed in Fusion 360 is a little different. In this case, the part is designed by combining several sketches as well as using the Hole and FIllet tools to make features on the finished part. We don't have a single sketch with just the outline of the piece. Another way you might find youself in this situation (not having a single sketch) is if you import a design from another CAD program.

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We can verify that the sketch doesn't outline the entire part. By clicking on one of the sketches in the browser, you can see that it's just the design for the tab on the left.

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We'll need to make a new sketch that can be exported as a DXF file.  Fusion 360 makes this easy. Right click on the top face of the part to show the context menu and click Create Sketch.

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This will make a new sketch and put Fusion into sketch mode. The features of the part are automatically projected into the new sketch.

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Click the Finish Sketch button on the toolbar to get out of sketch mode.

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Your new sketch will appear in the browser.

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Right click the new sketch and pick Save as DXF.  

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The save dialog will appear. Choose a filename for the DXF export that you'll remember, and don't forget to note which folder you saved it in.

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Now you're ready to upload the DXF file to Big Blue Saw's instant quoting system to order your part to be made from aluminum, stainless steel, polycarbonate plastic, or dozens of other materials!

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Need special materials or have other requests for your order? Our customer advocates are standing by to help you. Just email us at info@bigbluesaw.com, call 678-929-7294 (678-WAY-SAW4), or contact us through the website!