File > Import > AutoCAD > Design Strings (dxf) - Beware Units | Mining University

File > Import > AutoCAD > Design Strings (dxf) - Beware Units

It has recently come to my attention that not everyone is using AutoCAD the same way.  In cases like this any way that is not 'my way' is automatically considered the 'wrong way' but this time I think 'my way' and the 'right way' are the same thing.  This past week I was using the Maptek Vulcan menu option: File > Import > AutoCAD > Design Strings (dxf) to import a dxf file from a reputable consulting firm.  I have imported lots of dxf files in my career and never had any problem with them.  Imagine my confusion, then, when this file imported in the completely wrong space.

Sometimes data comes into Maptek Vulcan in the wrong coordinate units and it is necessary to use the View > Window > Fit Layer... option to see the data on screen.  I am familiar with this error but this data was MY data and drawn in MINE COORDINATES. What was the problem?  I was even more confused when the data imported back into AutoCAD in the correct units.

The coordinates in Vulcan were much larger than the mine coordinates should have been, about 12 times larger.  After some back and forth with the consulting company it finally came to light that they do all their drafting in inches. The fix, after getting this information, was a simple scaling of the dxf file data but INCHES?  Who designs in inches?

Alright, I understand that AutoCAD was originally created for mechanical engineers and that drawings for machined parts could, legitimately, be drawn in inches. But we aren't in the machined parts business and neither are the mining consultants. I can't believe that anyone would be designing mine plans in anything other than feet or meters (maybe in yards if you work in coal). Inches are right out!

The other thing that bothers me here is that AutoCAD recognizes the coordinate units as inches and will convert them back to feet for you.  Why doesn't Maptek Vulcan do this? The coordinate units are a flag in the dxf file.  I think this is something my $50,000 software should take into account.

I requested an upgrade be logged for this improvement by the Mine Engineers at Maptek.  I haven't received a JIRA reference number for this yet but I will update this post when (if?) it arrives.


  1. Havin this problem today myself. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad this helped you.