Export Maya to AutoCAD

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The goal is to export curves from our 3D model in Maya to AutoCAD to use it as a base for a 2D technical drawing. This tutorial covers exporting NURBS curves from Maya to AutoCAD.

The actions needed to export curves from Maya to AutoCAD differ considerately from version to version. Please note the instructions below for the various versions of Maya.

If you want to create sections of your 3D model, please refer to Creating Sections in Maya

Exporting curves from Maya 2011 and higher

It's required to have Maya 2011 installed with the Direct Connect component, which can be selected during installation. If you didn't install Direct Connect, you can download Direct Connect for Maya separately from the Autodesk website and install it manually. Furthermore the DCExport.mll plugin must be loaded: Window » Settings/Preferences » Plug-in Manager

Make sure your lines are in the XY-plane, so you may have to rotate them. Groups them first if they aren't already. Also make sure they're at Z-value 0.


Maya layers will also be exported to the AutoCAD file, so you may want to place the curves in a layer or a set of layers.

Select all curves.

Export them through File > Export Selection > OptionBox.

Maya 2011 export dwg dce options.png

Set the File Type to DWG_DCE.

If the file-type DWG_DCE isn't listed, the Direct Connect Export plug-in isn't loaded. Go to Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager and check DCExport.mll to load it.

Click Export Selection to start the export. You will be prompted for a location to save the DWG file.

Depending on the layer color in Maya, objects may seem to be missing when you open the exported DWG file. For instance: a default Maya layer will create a DWG layer with a black color. The objects will not show if you use the default black background of AutoCAD. Changing the layer color either in Maya or AutoCAD will solve this.


The curves will exported in 'bare units', without any unit conversion. So a curve in Maya that is 5 units long, will also be 5 units in AutoCAD. If you're units in Maya represent meters and your units in AutoCAD represent millimeters, you must manually scale your curves. In this example with a scale factor of 1000.

Exporting curves from Maya 8 up to Maya 2010

Unfortunately Autodesk decided to drop the plug-in that allows you to directly export curves to the DWG file format. You can export the curves to IGES and use an application such as Rhino to convert the IGES file to DWG. We're working on getting an IGES import plug-in for AutoCAD installed at the faculty.

Make sure the Iges.mll plugin is loaded (Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager)

Select all curves you want to export. Export them through File > Export Selection > OptionBox.

Export options

File Type
must be IGESExport (or OBJ).
Scale Factor
use if needed, or leave it at 1.0 (default).

Using Rhino to convert IGES to DWG

  • Import the IGES file
  • Select the curves and export them to DWG.

Exporting curves from Maya 7

Create layers for every section and place the curves in the corresponding layer. These layers will be exported to the AutoCAD file as well.

Make sure your lines are in the XY-plane, so you may have to rotate them. Groups them first if they aren't already. Also make sure they're at Z-value 0.


Select all curves of your section(s). Export them through File > Export Selection > OptionBox.

Export options

Maya export dwg options.jpg

File Type
must be DWGExport.
Output file format
should be set to ACAD 2004
set to Millimeters to create a millimeters based DWG
Scale factor
Scale the geometry by this number. 1000 to go from meters to millimeters.

These settings are to export a Maya model where one unit is a meter to a millimeters based DWG file.

If the file-type DWGExport isn't listed, the plug-in isn't loaded (Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager > dwgTranslator.mll).

Maya versions 8.0 to 2010 unfortunately don't support exporting NURBS curves to DWG/DXF.

Importing in AutoCAD

Make sure the units in AutoCAD are set up properly (to match the units you set for exporting in Maya). You can use the command units to verify and change the units (insertion scale).

Use Insert > Block to import your drawing.

Acad insert block from maya.jpg

Select the file created by Maya. You can optionally specify a custom scale and insertion point, but the defaults are fine in most cases. The Explode option may be useful to explode the block into separate lines.

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