DWG Insert of cross-referenced drawings

When inserting a set of cross-referenced DWGs, Rhino seems to get confused. For example, say you have a set of plans, ground floor and first floor. The ground floor contains an xref of the first floor, and visa vera.
It’s fine if only one drawing is inserted; the ground floor appears by itself. But if you then insert the first floor plan, both the first floor and the xrefed ground floor appear together. Presumably this has something to do with the referenced drawing already existing in someway in rhino.

This is true for current version of Rhino for Mac and Windows. And from my memory, it hasn’t always been the case. I’ve certainly setup files with DGNs from Microstation without having this issue.
It’s possible I’m overlooking a setting or something. Un-checking ‘Read linked blocks from this file’ makes no difference.

Hopefully someone can help. Thanks.

Can you post the two DWG files or any others that show the same issue? You can email tech@mcneel.com with them if they’re confidential.


I having similar problems. We have a setup with CAD for 2D and rhino for 3D. When importing CAD I wonder about the following;

Is it possible to only import the geometry in the CAD file, without any xrefs, they are always included althouh I have the box “dont read linked blocks from this file” unchecked.

Second, the xclips in the CAD file are ignored when importing to Rhino, is this possible to solve somehow?

Third, is there a way to differentiate “attached” and “overlay” xrefs from CAD, to make the import more similar to what you would have seen in the layout of the CAD file.

Thanks a lot in advance!


Sorry, I’ve been ignoring this issue for awhile, but I’m setting up a project again and am faced with the same problem.

I’ve made a simplified project to demonstrate;

The 3DM files contain DWGs inserted as a ‘Block instance’, with ‘Read linked blocks from this file’ unchecked, and ’Layer style’ as ‘Reference’.

**Model 1.3dm**

DWGs, ‘A Grid, A GF, A 1F’ aren’t cross-referenced to each other in Autocad. This works fine; DWGs appear individually.

Model 2.3dm

A second set of DWGS are cross-referenced; each DWG contains an xref to the others. This is set as an ‘overlay’ in Autocad, not an ‘attachment’.

Only the first floor shows the other xrefs for some reason. If the xrefs are left switched on when the DWGs are saved, this happens with all files. This is sort of workable, but very annoying.

However, when the 3DM is saved and reopened, the first floor drawing disappears entirely.

Model 3.3dm

I’ve inserted a file, ‘xrefs.dwg’, which is a DWG containing xrefs to the other DWG files. This method still puts all the drawings ontop of each other, and doesn’t allow you to control the visibility of the DWGs individually, so it’s not ideal either.

I’ve not managed to replicate this in the simplified project yet, but I also find the DWGs frequently fail to load when a file is re-opened and I see a large black label showing the path.

I’m trying to put together quite a complex project now, and it would be great to get this feature working reliably.


(Now using Rhino for Mac 5.2.4)


A Grid.dwg (30.9 KB)
A GF.dwg (38.3 KB)
A 1F.dwg (37.9 KB)
Model 1.3dm (114.7 KB)

Grid.dwg (30.9 KB)
GF.dwg (40.7 KB)
1F.dwg (43.3 KB)
Model 2.3dm (113.1 KB)

Xrefs.dwg (45.1 KB)
Model 3.3dm (113.5 KB)

Hi Neil,
Sorry for the issue.
Just to let you know, I am looking at this and hope to get back with you today or tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience.
Mary Ann Fugier
McNeel Technical Support and Training
Seattle, WA

Great, thanks.

I’m actually having some luck with it at the moment with this method;

  • Create a .3dm and insert various .Dwgs

  • Insert the .3dm file containing .Dwg references into a new .3dm to model in.

  • Don’t touch the first .3dm file.

Without having to open the first .3dm file, the .Dwgs update themselves in the model file, and it doesn’t appear to suffer from the issues I described.

I’ve not tested it much though. It’s a little confusing.


Hi Neil,
Thank you for getting the conversation going. Your examples were a very efficient way of allow me to investigate multiple problems with linked/reference blocks. I have felt that there were problems here for a while, but having you examples were key to allowing me to spend some time sorting through the various scenarios.

As I said, I have always felt next xrefs were flaky, but I was not sure if I was the only confused by the behavior. So your post was very important. I felt that there were multiple defects to be gleaned from your report, and that was very much the case.

I have posted your and Luke’s issues as a collection of bugs for the developers. I will work with the developers to understand the difference between Attach and Overlay in AutoCAD And find a better way for Rhino work with these type of nested links or not work with them at all, if the user prefers. I expect at some point the will be available for public view at and you can watch their progress.

Thanks again to you and Luke for reporting all these problems, as well as your workarounds.

Mary Ann Fugier
McNeel Technical Support and Training
Seattle, WA

Hi Luke,
I need your opinion.
You insert a DWG that contains an Overlay, how so you expect it to behave:

  1. Ignore the Overlay(s), and resolve only Attached Xref(s).
  2. Resolve Overlays and Attached Xrefs the same.
  3. Give you the option to decide

We have the feature request logged to allow Linked/Eternal Blocks to be ignored here

But I was curious if you say “yes” to resolve the Xrefs, do you expect Overlay Xrefs to be treat like AutoCAD does and ignore them.

Thanks again for the discussion.

Mary Ann Fugier
McNeel Technical Support and Training
Seattle, WA

I am also having trouble with DWG files linked to the Rhino model. As architects we use AutoCAD files as a live reference so we can work back and forth 2D to 3D, and often if not always our autocad files are referenced into each other (plans over plans; plans referenced into sections and elevations, etc…) - Rhino seems to be confused by these “nested” blocks. I would like to help with this issue.

Hi Kevin,
Thank you for letting us know.

  • What version of Rhino for Mac are you using?
  • What happens that is incorrect?
  • What steps repeat the problem?
  • What should happen instead?

Also please send any simple example files that would help show the issue.
This helps a lot.
Thanks again for helping us understand this problem better.

Mary Ann Fugier

RH-37161 should be fixed in the latest WIP. Please give it a try.

RH-37161 is fixed in the latest WIP

I know this is a little old (and possibly fixed in Rhino 6), but I searched for the solution to this issue and it brought me here. After a little experimenting I have found a workaround whereby after inserting the .dwg you can break the xref nesting by renaming the block definitions in Block Manager.

E.g. You want to insert groundFloor.dwg and firstFloor.dwg as linked blocks. firstFloor.dwg has groundFloor.dwg as an overlay xref, so after inserting both the linked block firstFloor also shows groundFloor as a nested block.

Renaming groundFloor to floorGround breaks the nesting, so firstFloor will no longer display groundFloor, as the nesting points to the reference name and not directly to the block reference. The link to the original files is retained.