Rhinoceros 3D

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Developer(s) Robert McNeel & Associates
Stable release 5.0 Service Release. [1] / February 26, 2015; 26 days ago (2015-02-26)
Development status Active
Operating system

Windows (2000/XP/Vista/7/8)

OS X (in development) [2]
Available in Multilingual
Type 3D computer graphics, Computer-aided design
License Proprietary
Website www.rhino3d.com

Rhinoceros (typically abbreviated Rhino, or Rhino3D) 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 geometry 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.[3]

Rhinoceros is developed for Microsoft Windows operating system and a beta version is available for OS X.[4] A visual scripting language add-on for Rhino, Grasshopper, is developed by Robert McNeel & Associates.



3D CAD model created with Rhinoceros 3D software and photograph of the final product.

Rhinoceros is a primarily a free form NURBS surface modeler. Its large array of tools for creating and editing surface structures affords the user control over form. In contrast to parametric, history tree-based solid modelers however, Rhinoceros objects do not have a complete construction history, so editing complex structures can be more time consuming.

Rhinoceros' application architecture and open SDK makes it modular and enables the user to customise the interface and create custom commands and menus. There are dozens of plug-ins available from both McNeel and other software companies that complement and expand Rhinoceros' capabilities in specific fields like rendering and animation, architecture, marine, jewelry, engineering, prototyping, and others.

File format[edit]

An example of artwork modeled in Rhino and rendered in Flamingo

The Rhinoceros 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 offers high compatibility with other software as it supports over 30 CAD file formats for importing and exporting. [5]

The following CAD and image file formats are natively supported (without use of external plugins):

Scripting and Programming[edit]

Rhinoceros supports two scripting languages, Rhinoscript (based on VBScript) and Python (V5.0+ and Mac). It also has an SDK, and a complete plug-in system. One McNeel plug-in, a parametric modeling/visual programming tool called Grasshopper, has attracted many architects to Rhinoceros due to its ease of use and ability to create complex algorithmic structures.[6]

Main article: Grasshopper 3D

When opening CAD file formats not in its native .3dm file format, Rhinoceros will convert the geometry into its native format; when importing a CAD file the geometry is added to the current file.

When AutoDesk AutoCAD's file format changes (see DWG file format for more information), the Open Design Alliance reverse engineers the file format to allow these files to be loaded by other vendors' software. Rhinoceros' import and export modules are actually plug-ins so they can be easily updated via a service release. Rhinoceros service releases (SR) are frequent and freely downloadable. Rhinoceros 5 SR10 can import and export DWG/DXF file formats up to version 2014.

Plug-ins and add-ons[edit]

Commercial third-party plug-ins for Rhinoceros include:


  • Scan&Solve for Rhino completely automates basic structural simulation of Rhino solids [7]
  • 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.[8]



  • madCAM by madCAM AB: Mould and Die CAM system for 2.5, 3, 3+2, 4 and 5-axis toolpath creation
  • RhinoCAM, RhinoART, Rhino3DPrint by Mecsoft: machining, rapid prototyping


  • Bongo integrated animation for Rhino 5 by by Robert McNeel & Associates [12]


  • Grasshopper a graphical algorithm editor tightly integrated with Rhino’s 3-D modeling tools. [13]
  • RhinoGold, RhinoNest, RhinoEmboss, Clayoo by TDM Solutions: jewelry, manufacturing, modeling
  • VisualARQ by Asuni CAD: BIM architectural modeling tool
  • RhinoWorks by Bricsys: Constraint-based parametric design in Rhino[14]
  • Shape Modelling for Rhino by Autodesk. Creation, analysis and modification of freeform surfaces[15]
  • T-splines for Rhino by Autodesk: T-splines modelling[16]

For an extended overview of additional plugins see http://www.rhino3d.com/resources/

See also[edit]


External links[edit]