Rhinoceros 3D

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Developer(s) Robert McNeel & Associates
Stable release 5.0 / November 28, 2012; 2 years ago (2012-11-28)
Development status Active
Operating system Windows (2000/XP/Vista/7/8)
Available in Multilingual
Type 3D computer graphics, Computer-aided design
License Proprietary
Website www.rhino3d.com

Rhinoceros (abbreviated Rhino) is a commercial 3D computer graphics and computer-aided design (CAD) application software developed by Robert McNeel & Associates, a privately held, employee-owned company that was founded in 1980 in the United States. Rhinoceros is based on NURBS mathematical model, which focuses on producing mathematically precise representation of curves and freeform surfaces in computer graphics (as opposed to polygon mesh-based applications).

Rhinoceros is used in processes of computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), rapid prototyping, 3D printing and reverse engineering in industries including architecture, industrial design (e.g. automotive design, watercraft design), product design (e.g. jewelry design) as well as for multimedia and graphic design.[1]

Rhinoceros is developed for Microsoft Windows operating system and a beta version is available for OS X.[2] A visual scripting language add-on for Rhino, Grasshopper, is developed by Robert McNeel & Associates.


File format[edit]

An example of artwork modeled in Rhino and rendered in Flamingo

The Rhino file format (.3DM) is useful for the exchange of NURBS geometry. The Rhino developers started the openNURBS Initiative to provide computer graphics software developers the tools to accurately transfer 3-D geometry between applications. An open-source toolkit, openNURBS includes the 3DM file format specification, documentation, C++ source code libraries and .NET 2.0 assemblies to read and write the file format, on supported platforms (Windows, Windows x64, Mac, and Linux). The McNeel Wiki has more current information.

Rhinoceros supports the following CAD and image file formats natively (without use of external plugins): DWG/DXF(AutoCAD 200x, 14, 13, and 12 ), SAT (ACIS, export only), Microstation DGN, Direct X (X file format), FBX, X_T (Parasolid, export only), 3DS, LWO, STL, SLC, OBJ, AI, RIB, POV, UDO, VRML, BMP, TGA, CSV (export properties and hydrostatics), uncompressed TIFF, STEP, VDA, GHS, GTS, KML, PLY, Google Sketch-UP. IGES (Alias, Ashlar Vellum, AutoFORM, AutoShip, Breault, CADCEUS, CAMSoft, CATIA, Cosmos, Delcam, EdgeCAM, FastSurf, FastSHIP, Integrity Ware, IronCAD, LUSAS, Maya, MAX 3.0, MasterCAM, ME30, Mechanical Desktop, Microstation, NuGraf, OptiCAD, Pro/E, SDRC I-DEAS, Softimage, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, SUM3D, SURFCAM, TeKSoft, Unigraphics), NASA GridTool, Yamaha ESPRi and Tebis.[3] DWF and DWFx file formats (from Autodesk products) are not supported.

When opening CAD file formats not in Rhino native file format, the program will always create a new drawing called "Untitled" and convert the file, meaning that for the file to remain in its old file format it must be re-converted to its original format. Images cannot be opened directly: they can be inserted as a background bitmap (for sketching), as a wallpaper or used as texture in an object material.

As the AutoDesk AutoCAD's file format changes every new version released (see DWG file format for more information), the Open Design Alliance has to reverse engineer the file format once more. So programs like Rhino3D can't always open AutoCAD files written in the most recent versions.

Rhino3D version 4.0 SR9 opens only DWG/DXF file formats until 2007 version. DWG files from 2008 to 2012 can opened only after being converted to older DWG versions using an appropriate version of Autodesk AutoCAD or the free Autodesk DWG TrueView 2012.


Despite numerous Service Releases (Rhinoceros 3D version 5 is now at SR10) there are still a number of critical shortcomings, many of which have been present since the first version of Rhinoceros;

  • Filleting The filleting of edges often fails and produces incorrect results.
  • UV mapping UV mapping functionality is extremely limited, giving bad or no unwrapping results and only works on very basic shapes.
  • Meshing The meshing algorithm used produces meshes of low quality often requiring the use of 3rd party software to fix the mesh.
  • Stability General instability, especially when using plugins, resulting in numerous crashes of Rhinoceros.


Main article: Grasshopper 3D

Rhinoceros has a scripting language based on Visual Basic, an SDK, and a plug-in system. One plug-in, a parametric modeling tool called Grasshopper, attracted some architects to the program.[4]

Plug-ins and add-ons[edit]

Commercial third-party plug-ins for Rhino include:

  • Diva for Rhino by Solemma LLC: Environmental analysis for buildings. The plug-in was initially developed at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and is now distributed and developed by Solemma LLC.[5]
  • KeyShot by Luxion: Rendering and animation[6]
  • Maxwell Render for Rhino by Next Limit Technologies: Rendering
  • RhinoWorks by Bricsys: Constraint-based parametric design in Rhino[7]
  • Shape Modelling for Rhino by Autodesk. Creation, analysis and modification of freeform surfaces[8]
  • T-splines for Rhino by Autodesk: T-splines modelling[9]
  • V-Ray for Rhino by Chaos Group: Rendering
  • VisualARQ by Asuni CAD: BIM architectural modeling tool

See also[edit]


External links[edit]