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NOTE: While written for SAP2000, this article also applies to CSiBridge.

SAP2000 models may be exported to AutoCAD 2012 as Drawing Exchange Format (DXF) files using the procedure which follows:

  1. Save the SAP2000 SDB file within the C:\Program Files\Computers and Structures\SAP2000 folder. This is where models must be saved for SAP2000 to perform operations.

    The example model we will use for this demonstration contains at least one joint, one-joint link, two-joint link, frame, shell, and solid object, as shown in Figure 1:

    Figure 1 - SAP2000 model for export

    NOTE: When certain structural objects are selected, only those objects will export to AutoCAD. To export the entire model, ensure that no objects are selected.

  2. Select File > Export > AutoCAD .dxf File, as shown in Figure 2:

    Figure 2 - Select the DXF Export feature

    NOTE: AutoCAD does not need to be installed on the desktop to import and export between SAP2000 and DXF. This is because DXF files are in text format, which is published and available to the public.

  3. Verify that AutoCAD .DXF Files (*.DXF) is selected from the 'Save as type' scroll-down menu, then save the model as a DXF file outside of the C:\Program Files\Computers and Structures\SAP2000 folder (Figure 3).

    Figure 3 - Save SAP2000 model in DXF format

  4. Select Yes to use the DXF layer template, as shown in Figure 4:

    Figure 4 - DXF layer template

  5. Go back to the C:\Program Files\Computers and Structures\SAP2000 folder, then double-click SAPDXF (Figure 5). This is the DXF layer template which will transfer SAP2000 objects into AutoCAD layers.

    Figure 5 - DXF layer template

  6. For each SAP2000 object type listed under Assign Layers, two options are available for transfer into DXF layer type, described as follows:

    • Default layer assignment. Coordinate SAP2000 object types with the DXF layer types available under each scroll-down menu to the right. Note that each menu has another scroll bar which presents additional options.

    • Manual layer assignment. For each DXF layer name desired, type the name into the lowest box, then select Add Layer. These options will then become available within each scroll-down menu, as demonstrated with Layer 3, shown in Figure 6:

      Figure 6 - Assign SAP2000 objects to DXF layers

  7. Select OK once layer names are assigned to each object type which occurs within the SAP2000 model to be exported into AutoCAD. The model will then be saved and available as a DXF file, located in the previously specified folder, as shown in Figure 7:

    Figure 7 - DXF file

  8. Open the DXF file within AutoCAD, as shown in Figure 8:

    Figure 8 - Open the DXF file within AutoCAD

  9. The SAP2000 model then opens within AutoCAD (Figure 9), and export to DXF format is complete.

    Figure 9 - SAP2000 model as AutoCAD DXF file

    NOTE: The model will initially open with an enlarged Top view in 2D. Select a corner of the ViewCube and then use the View > Orbit feature to adjust the 3D view and review the imported model.

    SAP2000 objects automatically transfer into DXF entities as follows:

    SAP2000 object

    DXF entity











    Link (one-point)




    Link (two-point)





    3D Face




    Polygon Mesh


See Also