How to Convert DGN to DWG in AutoCAD?

What is a DGN File?

A DGN file, short for “Design,” is a file format used primarily in the field of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided drafting (CADD). DGN files are associated with Bentley Systems’ MicroStation software, which is a popular CAD program used for creating and managing 2D and 3D designs, especially in architectural, engineering, and construction industries.

File Format

DGN files are a type of vector-based file format that stores design and drafting data. They can contain 2D drawings, 3D models, geospatial data, and more.

Used by MicroStation

DGN files are the native file format of Bentley’s MicroStation software. MicroStation is used for creating detailed engineering and architectural designs, as well as infrastructure projects.

Complexity

DGN files can handle complex data, making them suitable for large and intricate design projects. They are known for their ability to manage parametric and associative relationships within the design data.

Interoperability

While DGN is a proprietary format associated with MicroStation, it also has support for other CAD formats, allowing interoperability with other CAD software through export and import functions.

2D and 3D Capabilities

DGN files can store both 2D and 3D design data, making them versatile for a wide range of applications.

Geospatial Information

DGN files can include geospatial data, which is valuable for projects that involve geographic information systems (GIS).

Complex Projects

DGN files are often used for complex projects in industries like civil engineering, architecture, and construction, where precise design and data management are critical.

While DGN files are primarily associated with MicroStation, they can be converted to other CAD file formats for compatibility with different software. This makes them a flexible choice for design and drafting projects that require collaboration with other professionals using various CAD tools.

DGN vs DWG

DGN is the file format for MicroStation drawings. MicroStation, a widely used CAD software system, was designed specifically for the DGN format. This format is tailored to efficiently store a range of design data, including geometry, text, and attributes. The DGN format offers an optimized data representation, making it particularly suitable for handling large-scale designs and complex models.

DWG is the file format for AutoCAD drawings. AutoCAD, a popular CAD software widely used in the fields of architecture, engineering, and manufacturing, is the backbone of the DWG format. This binary format can be converted to a DXF text file using AutoCAD’s internal converter, enabling data to be read and written. The DWG format’s strength lies in its versatility; it has become the standard format for 2D CAD, with numerous other CAD software packages also supporting this format.

In summary, both DGN and DWG serve as file formats for storing CAD data, each with its own unique advantages. Which format to choose depends on specific application needs and the CAD software system being used.

How to Open DGN File in AutoCAD?

AutoCAD can open DWG/DXF files, it can‘t open dgn file directly, but there are two options to use/view a DGN file in AutoCAD.

Importing a DGN file

  1. Open a DWG file.
  2. Enter DGNIMPORT at the command line or click Application menu Open DGN.
  3. Navigate to and select the DGN file.

Note: This will convert the DGN content and bring it into a DWG file.

Attaching a DGN file as an underlay

  1. Open a DWG file.
  2. Enter XATTACH at the command line or go to Insert tab > Reference > Attach.
  3. Navigate to and select the DGN file.

Note: This option keeps the DGN in its native format and attaches it to a DWG as a reference file.

How to Open DGN File Without AutoCAD?

Bentley View

You can use Bentley View as a free CAD viewer with capabilities to search for objects, measure distances and areas accurately, and print drawings to scale with full fidelity, on every desktop, for free. You can easily open DWG and open DXF designs with the same fidelity as the authoring software.

MicroStation

MicroStation is the computer-aided design (CAD) software that users worldwide trust for creating precise 2D and 3D drawings for infrastructure projects. Engineers, architects, and construction professionals openly collaborate to deliver inspiring projects, utilizing the industry leading DGN file format.

How to Convert a DGN File to a DWG File?

AutoDWG DGN to DWG Converter

AutoDWG DGN to DWG converter is a light but powerful converter to convert DGN file V7&V8 to AutoCAD DWG/DXF file.

  • Convert DGN to DWG/DXF.
  • Stand-alone application, run without AutoCAD or MicroStation.
  • Support AutoCAD DWG/DXF format from R14 to 2024.

AutoCAD Import DGN

You can import data from V7 DGN and V8 DGN files into AutoCAD and save the data to DWG files.

The import process translates basic DGN data into the corresponding DWG file data and specialized data as a best fit. There are several translation options to determine how certain data such as text elements and external references are handled. You can manipulate text elements and external references, and select the conversion units based on DGN unit settings.

Note: You can import all DGN files, even those that don’t have a .dgn extension.

MicroStation Save As

  • Open the DGN file in MicroStation using File > Open
  • From Menu bar, Choose File > Save As.
  • Use [Save as type:] drop down and change to: Autodesk DWG Files (*.DWG)
  • Click [Options] and change desired settings.
  • Once desired settings are set, click OK and then Save. Press OK again if prompted.

How to Batch Convert DGN files to DWG Files?

AutoDWG DGN to DWG Converter Pro

DGN to DWG converter Pro version is a light but powerful converter to batch convert DGN files V7&V8 to AutoCAD DWG/DXF files.

  • Stand-alone application, run without AutoCAD or MicroStation.
  • Support AutoCAD DWG/DXF format from R14 to 2024.
  • Batch convert DGN to DWG/DXF.
  • Support command line.

How to Convert a DWG File to a DGN File?

AutoCAD Export

You can export DWG files to the V7 DGN and V8 DGN drawing file formats.

The export process translates basic DWG file data into the corresponding DGN file data, and specialized data as a best fit. There are several translation options to determine how data is translated during the export process.

  1. Click Application menu>Export>DGN.  
  2. In the Export Data dialog box, in the Files of type box, select V8 DGN (*.dgn) or V7 DGN (*.dgn).
  3. Specify the name of the DGN file at File Name. Do not use accented or Asian characters.
  4. Click Save.
  5. In the Export DGN Settings dialog box, specify the desired export options.
  6. Click OK.

The export process uses a standard mapping translation by default, which maps DWG-format layers, linetypes, lineweights, and colors to DGN-format levels, linestyles, lineweights, and colors. If necessary, you can change the mappings to match your company CAD standards. You can edit the mappings with the DGNMAPPING command.

MicroStation Save As

  1. Open the DWG file
  2. Under the “File” menu section select “Export” change the “Save as Type” to “Microstation V8 DGN Files”
  3. Click the “Options” button; adjust settings to the following
  4. Click “OK” to except the settings; then click the “Save” button

DWG/DGN Conversion Table

The following table lists the DGN objects and features that are supported for export, and notes on the scope of the translation.

DWG/DGN Conversion Table
AutoCADMicroStationNotes
Geometric ObjectsGeometric ElementsThe following DWG objects are translated into DGN elements: line, xline, ray, polyline, arc, circle, spline (NURBS), ellipse, elliptical arc, point, donut, mline, hatch (including gradient fills), and wipeout. Variable width polylines maintain only their starting width when translated into SmartLines.
LayersLevelsInvalid DWG characters in layer names are converted to spaces.
ColorsColorsColors are matched as closely as possible. Colors set with the ACI (AutoCAD Color Index) are translated directly to the DGN color index. If TrueColor is used and a direct match of RGB values is available in the DGN color index, the colors are also mapped directly. If a TrueColor match is not available, an RGB value is added to the DGN color index.
LinetypesLine StylesCustom linetypes are unsupported and could produce unexpected results.
BlocksCellsBlocks are exported as shared cells. Dynamic blocks are also exported as cells and lose their dynamic behavior. Invisible, Constant, Verify, and Preset attributes are all converted into tags.
Single-line Text Objects, Multiline Text Objects, Text StylesText, Text Nodes, Text StylesThe visual integrity of multiline text is maintained. However, if exported multiline text objects are edited in MicroStation, the formatting is lost.TrueType and SHX fonts in AutoCAD are exported to MicroStation V7 as Engineering. This can result in many visual differences.
TablesTablesTable objects are exported as cell elements composed of lines and text.
FieldsFieldsIn general, fields are translated as static text. The exceptions are fields that behave identically in both products. This includes the Date fields CreateDateSaveDate, and PlotDate, and the Document property fields AuthorFilename, and Filesize.Note:Use the MicroStation Key-in utility to update text containing fields (field update all).
Dimensions, Dimension StylesDimensions, Dimension StylesThe size, spacing, style, and shape of dimensions may vary slightly. Dimension associativity is maintained whenever possible, and the correct dimension values are always maintained.
Raster ImagesRaster ImagesThese image file types are supported: .bmp, .cal, .tif, .png, .tga, .jpg.gif.rlc.bil, and .pcx. All other image file types are discarded.
DWG ReferencesDGN ReferencesDepending on the export option specified, all referenced DWG files, including nested DWG references, are either converted into DGN files, combined into a single DGN file as cells, or discarded.Note:MicroStation V7 does not support nested references to references that are merged into the host file.
DWG ModelDGN Design ModelThe model in a DWG file is converted into a DGN file.
DWG LayoutDGN Sheet ModelWhen exporting to V8, any initialized layouts are converted into sheet models in the DGN file.V7 only supports one model. For V7, several DGN files can be exported: one for the model and the other DGN files for any initialized layouts in the DWG file. The layout names get appended to the exported DGN file <filename> – Layout1.dgn.
AEC Objects AEC objects are not supported. Use the EXPORTTOAUTOCAD command to convert AEC objects to basic AutoCAD objects before exporting to DGN.

What are the Limitations of Import DGN in AutoCAD?

The import process handles DGN objects and properties that have a direct correlation to DWG objects and properties without any issues. For example, levels in MicroStation translate directly to AutoCAD layers. However, DGN objects and properties that have no direct correlation to DWG objects and properties may not translate completely. The following are known limitations resulting from this issue.

  • Data with built-in features or variations are visually approximated. For example, text and dimensions with specialized formatting, and color definitions might be customized.
  • Entities in the DGN file that have a color property set for a symbol lose the symbol color when imported as a block.
  • Linetypes associated with multilines do not display.
  • Entities with DGN line styles in nonuniformly scaled blocks may look different to how they appear in MicroStation.
  • Line style modifier settings of an element in the DGN file are lost when exporting them from AutoCAD back to MicroStation.
  • The Closed property of a DGN polygon or closed polyline changes to No during import.

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