Rhinoceros (Rhino) is a stand-alone, commercial NURBS-based 3-D modeling software, developed by Robert McNeel & Associates. The software is commonly used for industrial design, architecture, marine design, jewelry design, automotive design, CAD / CAM, rapid prototyping, reverse engineering, product design as well as the multimedia and graphic design industries
Rhino specializes in free-form non-uniform rational B-spline (NURBS) modeling. Plug-ins developed by McNeel include Flamingo (raytrace rendering), Penguin (non-photorealistic rendering), Bongo, and Brazil (advanced rendering). Over 100 third-party plugins are also available. There are also rendering plug-ins for Maxwell Render, V-ray, Thea and many other engines. Additional plugins for CAM and CNC milling are available as well, allowing for toolpath generation directly in Rhino.
A model created in Rhino, illustrating free-form NURBS surfaces (Rendered in Flamingo)
Like many modeling applications, Rhino also features a scripting language, based on the Visual Basic language, and an SDK that allows reading and writing Rhino files directly. Rhinoceros 3d gained its popularity in architectural design in part because of the Grasshopper plug-in for computational design. Many new avant-garde architects are using parametric modeling tools, like Grasshopper.
Rhino's increasing popularity is based on its diversity, multi-disciplinary functions, low learning-curve, relatively low cost, and its ability to import and export over 30 file formats, which allows Rhino to act as a 'converter' tool between programs in a design workflow.
Rhino was originally distributed as a free, closed-source, open beta. A broad community of users whose input debugged and added features to the program developed as a result.
The development is on-going; version 4.0 Service Release 9 is the most recent with version 5.0 expected in 2012. Development of a Mac OS X version in progress; beta version is available on request.http://www.irhino3d.com/application.htm Rhino owners can download the latest beta versions and participate in the development process.
Free trial versions are available for download. They have all features of the complete version except that you can only save your drawing up to 25 times. After that, the trial version will still be functional but won't save or load third-party plugins, making it a good program for viewing different file formats and sketching.
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. 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 fore more info), 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 current version (Rhino3D 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.
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