Rhinoceros 3D

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Developer(s)Robert McNeel & Associates
Stable release
Rhino 7 / December 8, 2020; 6 months ago (2020-12-08)[1]
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows, macOS
Available inMultilingual
Type3D computer graphics, Computer-aided design

Rhinoceros (typically abbreviated Rhino or Rhino3D) is a commercial 3D computer graphics and computer-aided design (CAD) application software developed by Robert McNeel & Associates, an American, privately held, employee-owned company founded in 1980. Rhinoceros geometry is based on the 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.[2]

Rhinoceros is developed for the Microsoft Windows operating system and macOS. A visual scripting language add-on for Rhino, Grasshopper, is developed by Robert McNeel & Associates.



Rhinoceros is primarily a freeform surface modeler that utilizes the NURBS mathematical model. Rhinoceros's application architecture and open SDK make it modular and enable the user to customize 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's capabilities in specific fields, such as rendering and animation, architecture, marine, jewelry, engineering, prototyping, and others.[3]

File format[edit]

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.


Rhinoceros offers compatibility with other software as it supports over 30 CAD file formats for importing and exporting.[4]

The following CAD and image file formats are natively supported (without the use of external plug-ins):

  • AI
  • RIB
  • POV
  • UDO
  • VRML
  • CSV (export properties and hydrostatics)
  • BMP

The following CAD file formats are supported with use of external plug-ins:[5]

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's 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.

Rhinoceros is also compatible with a number of graphic design-based programs. Among them is Adobe Illustrator. This method is best when working with a vector-based file. The user starts by saving the file, then, when prompted, saves as Adobe Illustrator (*ai). From there, the user can control the vectors created in Rhinoceros, which can be enhanced further in Adobe Illustrator.

3D printing[edit]

Rhinoceros 3D relies on a few plug-ins that facilitate 3D printing [6][7] and allows the export of .STL and .OBJ file formats, both of which are supported by numerous 3D printers and 3D printing services.

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.[8]

An example of artwork modeled in Rhino and rendered in Flamingo

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Download Rhino 7 for Windows". Robert McNeel & Associates.
  2. ^ "Rhino 3D 6 for Windows and Mac". NOVEDGE. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "Rhinoceros Resources". rhino3d.com. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  4. ^ "Index of import/export file types". Rhinoceros Help. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  5. ^ Thuilier, Félix. "Rhino plug-ins to convert, import and export files". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  6. ^ "3D Print Button". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  7. ^ "3D Hubs 3D Printing plugin for Rhino". Food4Rhino. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  8. ^ "AEC Magazine - Rhino Grasshopper".

External links[edit]