design, model, present, analyze, realize
Rhinoceros (Rhino or Rhino3D) can create, edit, analyze, document, render, animate, and translate NURBS curves, surfaces, and solids, point clouds, and polygon meshes with no limits on complexity, degree, or size beyond those of your hardware. Use Rhino wherever curvaceous design and manipulation is required.
Rhino can be used as a stand-alone software without the need for any other design product, but it is mostly used in conjunction with other CAD, CAM, MCAD, CAE and BIM programs.
Use Rhino to design anything from jewelry to machinery and even architecture.
“We use a variety of CAD modelers for our designs – Rhino is universally compatible with all of them and just brilliant for complex surface manipulation”
- Uninhibited free-form 3D modeling tools like those found only in products costing 20 to 50 times more. Model any shape you can imagine.
- Accuracy needed to design, prototype, engineer, analyze, and manufacture anything from an airplane to jewelry.
- Compatibility with all your other design, drafting, CAM, engineering, analysis, rendering, animation, and illustration software.
- Read and repair meshes and extremely challenging IGES files.
- Accessible. So easy to learn and use that you can focus on design and visualization without being distracted by the software.
- Fast, even on an ordinary laptop computer. No special hardware is needed.
- Development platform for hundreds of specialty 3D products.
- Affordable. Ordinary hardware. Short learning curve. Affordable purchase price. No maintenance fees.
The primary reason you would use Rhino in your design workflow is to generate NURBs – Non Uniform Rational B-Splines – these are really flexible curves and surfaces that are also extremely accurate. Rhino’s comprehensive tool-set means you can make any shape and make it a reality. Control points on curves or surfaces can be manipulated freely or with digital accuracy.
Points: points, point clouds, point grid, extract from objects, mark (intersection, divide, draft-angle, ends, closest, foci)
Curves: line, polyline, polyline on mesh, free-form curve, circle, arc, ellipse, rectangle, polygon, helix, spiral, conic, TrueType text, point interpolation, control points (vertices), sketch.
Curves from other objects: through points, through polyline, extend, continue curve, fillet, chamfer, offset, blend, arc blend, from 2 views, tween, cross section profiles, intersection, contour on NURBS surface or mesh, section on NURBS surface or mesh, border, silhouette, extract isoparm, extract curvature graph, projection, pullback, sketch, wireframe, detach trim, 2D drawings with dimensions and text, flatten developable surfaces.
Surfaces: from 3 or 4 points, from 3 or 4 curves, from planar curves, from network of curves, rectangle, deformable plane, extrude, ribbon, rule, loft with tangency matching, developable, sweep along a path with edge matching, sweep along two rail curves with edge continuity, revolve, rail revolve, tween, blend, patch, drape, point grid, heightfield, fillet, chamfer, offset, plane through points, TrueType text, Unicode (double-byte) text.
Solids: box, sphere, cylinder, tube, pipe, cone, truncated cone, pyramid, truncated pyramid, ellipsoid, torus, extrude planar curve, extrude surface, cap planar holes, join surfaces, region, nonmanifold merge, TrueType text, Unicode (double-byte) text.
Meshes: from NURBS surfaces, from closed polyline, mesh face, plane, box, cylinder, cone, and sphere.
General Tools: delete, delete duplicates, join, merge, trim, untrim, split, explode, extend, fillet, chamfer, object properties, history.
Transform Tools: cut, copy, paste, move, rotate, mirror, scale, stretch, align, array, twist, bend, taper, shear, offset, orient, flow along curve, pull, project, boxedit, smash, squish.
Points and curves: control points, edit points, handlebars, smooth, fair, change degree, add/remove knots, add kinks, rebuild, refit, match, simplify, change weight, make periodic, adjust end bulge, adjust seam, orient to edge, convert to arcs, a polyline, or line segments.
Surfaces: control points, handlebars, change degree, add/remove knots, match, extend, merge, join, untrim, split surface by isoparms, rebuild, shrink, make periodic, Boolean (union, difference, intersection), unroll developable surfaces, array along curve on surface.
Solids: fillet edges, extract surface, shell, Booleans (union, difference, intersection).
Meshes: explode, join, weld, unify normals, apply to surface, reduce polygons.
Learn about Nurbs...
What are NURBS?
NURBS, Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines, are mathematical representations of 3‑D geometry that can accurately describe any shape from a simple 2‑D line, circle, arc, or curve to the most complex 3‑D organic free-form surface or solid. Because of their flexibility and accuracy, NURBS models can be used in any process from illustration and animation to manufacturing.
NURBS geometry has five important qualities that make it an ideal choice for computer-aided modeling.
- Several industry‑standard methods are used to exchange NURBS geometry. This means that customers are able to move their valuable geometric models between various modeling, rendering, animation, and engineering analysis programs. They can store geometric information in a way that will be usable for the foreseeable future.
- NURBS have a precise and well-known definition. The mathematics and computer science of NURBS geometry is taught in most major universities. This means that specialty software vendors, engineering teams, industrial design firms, and animation houses that need to create custom software applications, can find trained programmers who are able to work with NURBS geometry.
- NURBS can accurately represent both standard geometric objects like lines, circles, ellipses, spheres, and tori, and free‑form geometry like car bodies and human bodies.
- The amount of information required for a NURBS representation of a piece of geometry is much smaller than the amount of information required by common faceted approximations.
- The NURBS evaluation rule, discussed below, can be implemented on a computer in a way that is both efficient and accurate.
What is NURBS Geometry?
NURBS curves and surfaces behave in similar ways and share terminology. Since curves are easiest to describe, we will cover them in detail. A NURBS curve is defined by four things: degree, control points, knots, and an evaluation rule.
The degree is a positive whole number.
This number is usually 1, 2, 3 or 5, but can be any positive whole number. NURBS lines and polylines are usually degree 1, NURBS circles are degree 2, and most free‑form curves are degree 3 or 5. Sometimes the terms linear, quadratic, cubic, and quintic are used. Linear means degree 1, quadratic means degree 2, cubic means degree 3, and quintic means degree 5.
You may see references to the order of a NURBS curve. The order of a NURBS curve is positive whole number equal to (degree+1). Consequently, the degree is equal to (order‑1).
It is possible to increase the degree of a NURBS curve and not change its shape. Generally, it is not possible to reduce a NURBS curve’s degree without changing its shape.
The control points are a list of at least degree+1 points.
One of easiest ways to change the shape of a NURBS curve is to move its control points.
The control points have an associated number called a weight . With a few exceptions, weights are positive numbers. When a curve’s control points all have the same weight (usually 1), the curve is called non-rational, otherwise the curve is called rational. The R in NURBS stands for rational and indicates that a NURBS curve has the possibility of being rational. In practice, most NURBS curves are non-rational. A few NURBS curves, circles and ellipses being notable examples, are always rational.
The knots are a list of (degree+N-1) numbers, where N is the number of control points. Sometimes this list of numbers is called the knot vector. In this term, the word vector does not mean 3‑D direction.
This list of knot numbers must satisfy several technical conditions. The standard way to ensure that the technical conditions are satisfied is to require the numbers to stay the same or get larger as you go down the list and to limit the number of duplicate values to no more than the degree. For example, for a degree 3 NURBS curve with 11 control points, the list of numbers 0,0,0,1,2,2,2,3,7,7,9,9,9 is a satisfactory list of knots. The list 0,0,0,1,2,2,2,2,7,7,9,9,9 is unacceptable because there are four 2s and four is larger than the degree.
The number of times a knot value is duplicated is called the knot’s multiplicity. In the preceding example of a satisfactory list of knots, the knot value 0 has multiplicity three, the knot value 1 has multiplicity one, the knot value 2 has multiplicity three, the knot value 3 has multiplicity one, the knot value 7 has multiplicity two, and the knot value 9 has multiplicity three. A knot value is said to be a full-multiplicity knot if it is duplicated degree many times. In the example, the knot values 0, 2, and 9 have full multiplicity. A knot value that appears only once is called a simple knot. In the example, the knot values 1 and 3 are simple knots.
If a list of knots starts with a full multiplicity knot, is followed by simple knots, terminates with a full multiplicity knot, and the values are equally spaced, then the knots are called uniform. For example, if a degree 3 NURBS curve with 7 control points has knots 0,0,0,1,2,3,4,4,4, then the curve has uniform knots. The knots 0,0,0,1,2,5,6,6,6 are not uniform. Knots that are not uniform are called non‑uniform. The N and U in NURBS stand for non‑uniform and indicate that the knots in a NURBS curve are permitted to be non-uniform.
Duplicate knot values in the middle of the knot list make a NURBS curve less smooth. At the extreme, a full multiplicity knot in the middle of the knot list means there is a place on the NURBS curve that can be bent into a sharp kink. For this reason, some designers like to add and remove knots and then adjust control points to make curves have smoother or kinkier shapes. Since the number of knots is equal to (N+degree‑1), where N is the number of control points, adding knots also adds control points and removing knots removes control points. Knots can be added without changing the shape of a NURBS curve. In general, removing knots will change the shape of a curve.
Knots and Control Points
A common misconception is that each knot is paired with a control point. This is true only for degree 1 NURBS (polylines). For higher degree NURBS, there are groups of 2 x degree knots that correspond to groups of (degree+1) control points. For example, suppose we have a degree 3 NURBS with 7 control points and knots 0,0,0,1,2,5,8,8,8. The first four control points are grouped with the first six knots. The second through fifth control points are grouped with the knots 0,0,1,2,5,8. The third through sixth control points are grouped with the knots 0,1,2,5,8,8. The last four control points are grouped with the last six knots.
Some modelers that use older algorithms for NURBS evaluation require two extra knot values for a total of (degree+N+1) knots. When Rhino is exporting and importing NURBS geometry, it automatically adds and removes these two superfluous knots as the situation requires.
A curve evaluation rule is a mathematical formula that takes a number and assigns a point.
The NURBS evaluation rule is a formula that involves the degree, control points, and knots. In the formula there are some things called B-spline basis functions. The B and S in NURBS stand for “basis spline.” The number the evaluation rule starts with is called a parameter. You can think of the evaluation rule as a black box that eats a parameter and produces a point location. The degree, knots, and control points determine how the black box works.
If you are comfortable reading mathematical formulae, here are more details…
Conversion, Capture and Analysis
Rhinoceros is renown as a file converter and is often used to import, manipulate and convert common 3D model file formats including IGES. Rhino3D can be used to import poorly made surface models and stitch them together to form fully closed solids for use in parametric modelers like SolidWorks, Inventor and IronCAD and Creo.
You can also you use it to interrogate your model for the widest range of measured data.
“I use Rhino in my manufacturing business to clean up ‘dodgy’ models from lazy designers. Its been a life saver on more than one occasion.”
Analysis: point, length, distance, angle, radius, bounding box, normal direction, area, area centroid, area moments, volume, volume centroid, volume moments, , hydrostatics, surface curvature, geometric continuity, deviation, nearest point, curvature graph on curves and surfaces, naked edges, working surface analysis viewport modes (draft angle, zebra stripe, environment map with surface color blend, show edges, show naked edges, Gaussian curvature, mean curvature, and minimum or maximum radius of curvature).
3D Capture existing 3D data is often one of the first steps in a design project. Rhino has always directly supported both 3D digitizing hardware and 3D scanned point cloud data. Rhino supports:
- Large point clouds. 3D scanners have become faster and cheaper, making huge scan files more common. Rhino’s 64-bit support and enhanced support for graphic co‑processors has made it possible to work with these large point clouds.
- LIDAR captures 3D terrain data for agriculture, archaeology, conservation, geology, land use planning, surveying, transportation, plus wind farm, solar farm, and cell tower deployment optimization. Rhino 6 for Windows has robust support for plug-ins, such as RhinoTerrain, that provide specialty tools for these new Rhino users.
Robust mesh import, export, creation, and editing tools are critical to all phases of design, including:
- Transferring captured 3D data from digitizing and scanning into Rhino as mesh models.
- Exchanging mesh data with many applications.
- Exporting meshes for analysis and rendering.
- Exporting meshes for prototyping and fabrication.
- Converting NURBS to meshes for display and rendering.
Both new and enhanced mesh tools, plus support for double-precision meshes, accurately represent and display ground forms such as the 3D topography of a large city.
The goal for Rhino 6 was to make it easier to create 2D drawings and illustrations for every discipline in every notation system and visual style used around the world.
Annotation objects include: arrows, dots, dimensions (horizontal, vertical, aligned, rotated, radial, diameter, angle), text blocks, leaders, hidden line removal, Unicode (double-byte) support for text, dimensions, and notes. Dimensions in perspective views are supported.
Grasshopper is a graphical algorithm editor included with Rhino.
Unlike RhinoScript, Rhino.Python, or other programming languages, Grasshopper requires no knowledge of programming or scripting, but still allows developers and designers to develop form generation algorithms without writing code.
Rhino 3D System Requirements
Internet Connection for
Rhino Account for
Recommended Operating Systems
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What license options are available?
There is no compulsory subscription and you don’t have to be connected to the internet to use the software.
Is it difficult to learn?
Forums will help you when you need to ask a question and online training materials and YouTube links make learning fast.
Rhino3D is probably the most used professional 3D modeler world wide.
Why Rhino3D vs other CAD software?
We recommend Rhino3D on its own when your budget doesn’t extend to products like IronCAD for mechanical design or ARCHLineXP for architecture, or when you only require free-form models for character creation in a movie or game for instance.
In most cases Rhino is used to model complex surfaces and then on-send those surfaces to downstream design processes.
Even when you intend to use Rhino3D on its own you eventually find that it works best for you with plugins for your particular task. There are plugins for boat design, jewelery, architecture and more.
If you’re not quite sure what the best fit for you is, then ask one of our expert team members to make a recommendation. We’ve been supplying Rhino3D to designers longer than anyone in the country.
Is Rhino3D for architecture a good idea?
If you are involved in modern curvaceous forms and are exploring organic construction then Rhino3D (with Grasshopper) is a great way to develop up your ideas. It is NOT a great architectural documentation tool!
Typically you will want to export your Rhino3D model to IronCAD for manufacturing/detailing drawings and to programs like Revit, ArchiCAD or ARCHLine.XP for architectural BIM/CAD management and documentation.
If you are involved in more traditional construction methods used in 98% of designs that are actually built rather than simply deamed about, then Rhino3D for architecture is a less appropriate or productive choice as it has no tools for speeding up the creation and editing of typical architectural elements such as walls, windows, doors, roofs, slabs, stairs etc.
As organic forms become less expensive to build at scale, Rhino will become more relevant for Architects to use in typical residential and commercial design.
What is Flamingo and Bongo?
Rhino3D is the modelling engine used to create your 3D objects, Flamingo is a rendering plugin that makes your model look almost real, Bongo will animate your model to produce a movie.
In addition to these plugins from the makers of Rhino3D themselves, there are many third party plugins for Rhino. These range from jewelery design, ship design, structural analysis, fluid dynamics, animation and rendering.
For rendering we like to use Lumion and KeyShot
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