[Fab] Fwd: Liberated Replicator (MakerBot Replicator in portable 3D formats)

Arlen Abraham arlen.abraham at gmail.com
Fri Mar 30 00:31:15 UTC 2012

Hi Michael,

First time caller, long time Rhino user.

I don't think that Rhino has ever been a "computer graphics program"
in the way that things like 3Ds MAX and Maya have been and continue to
be. Frankly, all the rendering engines for Rhino suck. Maybe not
Maxwell, but that's a giant bucket of money.

For years, Rhino's primary strength was NURBS, but it's also always
been easy to get under the hood with RhinoScript which as been C# for
a long time, but can now be done in Python as of Rhino 5 (currently in

According to the head of Rhino development, the three biggest Rhino
users are making boats, especially racing sailboats, running shoes,
and jewelry. This has probably shifted recently as more and more
architects are now using Rhino because of Grasshopper.

In the last three years or so, Grasshopper, a parametric graphical
algorithm editor in the form of a free plugin has been gaining in
popularity and has become and indispensable part of Rhino for what we
do at my work. (We make big organic shapes out of glass, see
nikolas.net for photos). For people familiar with Max MSP, I tell them
that Grasshopper is like Max for geometry, but it's a bit more than
that. Many people use Grasshopper generatively, but we end up using it
more for pulling data about geometry, this data then informs how we
build things.

I haven't had much experience with Solidworks, but I know that it is
not the right program for the big organic-y things we do. We also use
Rhino to design machined parts. While this is not ideal, the stuff
we're having made is sufficiently simple that we don't need to go out
and pay for a Solidworks license.

Lastly, I would like to give a shout out to the wonderful folks at
McNeel in Seattle. There is usually very little to no wait for
technical support. Also, calls to the support line aren't limited to
problems you are having with your software. They are all highly
skilled and knowledgeable people who are excited to help you with your
modeling problems. They're highly receptive to feature requests, bug
reports and feedback during their beta process.

As far as your theses go:
1) Rhino is $1000, which is a lot, but totally worth it if you're
using it every day to make money like we are. The student version is
$200 and fully functional.
2) Grasshopper is $0
3) Yeah, ok. Rhino can export into an bizzilion different formats
(DXF, STEP, IGES, etc.) but there's no great interchange format. This
isn't entirely McNeel's fault.
4) Doesn't happen.
5) There's Rhino for OS X (free open beta! go get it!), but I kinda
hate some of the UI stuff. Nicole and Ian love it though...
6) See above comments about RhinoScript, etc. Also see
7) Rhino has something called a worksession manager which lets you
break the file up into component parts and let people work on stuff
together. Merging/diff-ing Rhino files sounds hard, but I'm not a
software guy.
8) Can't speak to this one, but people /are/ doing some crazy shit
with Grasshopper. Have I mentioned how much I love Grasshopper?

In conclusion, I think Rhino is a great program for *certain things*
but those things are very different from what FreeCAD is offering. The
Autodesk and Solidworks behemoths certainly could use some pressure
applied by a viable open source alternative. I'm willing (eager, even)
to talk more about this, but I don't currently own a portable computer
that's not also a telephone.


On Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 15:17, Michael Prados <mprados at gmail.com> wrote:
> Cool, Miloh!  Is your openscad material up somewhere we can try it out?
> I'll try to get some orb swarm 3d printer / laser cutter materials together.
> Thanks, every one, for putting up with my extemporaneous presentation.
> Talking about it helped to clarify my ideas, and pointed out some areas
> where I want to do some more research.
> Maybe let's meet on this topic again in about a month.  It might be
> interesting to hear from someone designing physical objects in Blender and
> Rhino (or similar tools that grew up as "computer graphics software") who
> could provide a counterpoint about their best features as design tools.
> -Mike
> On Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 7:08 AM, miloh <froggytoad at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I wouldnt have known what STEP was...
>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>> From: "Taylor Alexander" <tlalexander at gmail.com>
>> Date: Mar 29, 2012 3:18 AM
>> Subject: Liberated Replicator (MakerBot Replicator in portable 3D formats)
>> To: <bay-area-reprap at googlegroups.com>
>> So Jon was asking me for some non-solidworks formats for the MK7 extruder,
>> which I got him the other day. Then today I noticed that the entire
>> Replicator has been posted on Thingiverse in solidworks format, and someone
>> was complaining that it wasn't a portable format.
>> So I opened everything in solidworks and converted it to STEP, IGES, and
>> Parasolid.
>> If you don't have solidworks and want to examine the new Replicator, now
>> you can. Since we have a lot of DIY types on the list, I thought you guys in
>> particular would like to see it.
>> http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:20253
>> -Taylor
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