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

Michael Prados mprados at gmail.com
Fri Mar 30 01:52:13 UTC 2012

Hey Arlen,

If you want to do a presentation, I'm happy to offer the use of my laptop.
I've got Rhino running under windows, although it is probably a couple
versions old, and I don't think I've got Grasshopper installed.  If you
want to give me some pointers on what sort of configuration works for you,
I could try to get it to that state (strikes me as a reasonable investment
of my own time, since I would hope to use it myself.)

If you were to place Rhino in a category of software, what would it be?  It
is marketed as "NURBS modeling for Windows", which conspicuously avoids
terms like "CAD" or "graphics".  I believe NURBS modelling has a lineage
closer to 1980's film special effects than 1980's 2D CAD (like Autocad
2012- zing!), so I tend to lump it, fairly or not, with the likes of Maya
and 3ds Max.

Personally, I've forgotten how to blow my nose without parametric
technology, and I lie awake at night wondering if I left one of my sketches
under constrained.  It's tough for me to grok what goes into modeling with
a tool like Rhino, but it's increasingly apparent I need to.  Last night, I
learned a little about modeling with constructive geometry using a textual
procedural language in OpenSCAD, and I've found myself on a different side
of a void, thinking "but don't you want to just click on things?". But at
the same time I recognized a lot of ways I have been wasting time in
Solidworks without access to functionality like OpenSCAD.

Each of these tools clearly has strengths and weaknesses.  Solidworks has
surface modelling, which is perhaps a bit like using Rhino, and an
(obnoxious) API, which is a bit like using OpenSCAD.  I'm finding that with
design software, I'm more in the emacs school of software architecture (one
program that does everything,) than the Adobe school (subdivide every field
of human endeavor into atomic bits and optimize.)  I want to see tools like
Blender and Freecad seamlessly integrated, so you can use whichever design
paradigm works for the task at hand, not just the one you paid for, you
invested an absurd chunk of your life learning, or that is compatible with
your OS and your existing data formats.

While I'm very happy that Rhino scores well against my bitch list, I of
course did not try to enumerate the things that I think mechanical CAD has
done well.  I'd love to understand Rhino well enough to make a fair

Finally, while I'm very impressed with the Grasshopper demos I have seen
(maybe you could link some of your favorites, Arlen,) I am a veteran of a
good number of graphical programming languages (PD, Max/MSP, Simulink, and
Labview,) and I'm left wondering if they are really any more accessible
than text based scripting, once you get past a few blocks.  It might be a
hard sell to the open source developer community, who are more likely to
get a warm fuzzy from something that reminds them of C.  Are you sold on
blocks and arrows vs. lines of code?  I wonder if PD or some other open
source graphical language could be pressed into service...


On Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 5:31 PM, Arlen Abraham <arlen.abraham at gmail.com>wrote:

> 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
> beta).
> 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
> http://www.rhino3d.com/developer.htm
> 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.
> --a
> 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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