AutoCAD>3ds Max workflow to Rhino, unsure if it's a workable option?

Hi - As part of my design/visualization work for my primary client I typically build detailed 3D models in AutoCAD, and export them to 3ds max if rendered views are needed to help sell the projects. I also import some of the AutoCAD models into Inventor, to calculate weights, COG and certain types of loading information, for construction purposes. I am using older, stand-along versions of those 3 programs (2014) on an older computer (Windows 7), and want to upgrade, especially max to get updated render tools and be able to take advantage of current computer speeds, (and cloud rendering) but the costs for subscriptions to all 3 are prohibitive. I simply don’t do enough work at this point to justify the cost, including a powerful enough desktop to run them. To mitigate that I am considering keeping the older computer around for Inventor only, as calcs are all I use that program for. Someone in a design school recommended Rhino as a cost-effective alternative to AutoCAD and max. I’ve been looking at tutorials and reading about it but cannot quite tell if it would be a viable option for replacing those two, especially as-is, or if it requires a variety of plug-ins. Critical features are ability to create blueprints, I use paper space in AutoCAD, and being able to generate decent looking renders, at least as good as my current max results. That last seems like it should not be a problem, looking around the site. While my mind is not as flexible as it was when I first learned those programs (!) I am willing to buy and learn the program if it makes sense. Any advice from people with similar experience would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, Dan

Hi Dan - the only way to know, I think, is to try - you’re the only person who knows your workflow, what models & image you need to make and what the constraints are - I’d just get the 90 day eval and have at it - you can ask questions here.


Dan, I think you will find the Rhino Layouts are very similar to Autosad Paper Space/Model Space. Instead of xref we have worksessions. There are blocks as well (although not dynamic).

Rendering is pretty good, although you may want to look at something like the TwinMotion plugin which is popular for architectural renderings and doesn’t cost an arm or leg.

As Pascal suggested the 90 day free trial is the way to go. I would suggest, however, that you do as much reviewing of youtube tutorials and Rhino help as you can stand before downloading the trial. 90 days isn’t very long for a piece of software as functional as Rhino especially if you get a lot of job-stopper questions that take time to get answers for.

With your previous experience you should have no trouble just reading through the Rhino help and learning the terminology and concepts that are a bit different from what you’re familiar with.

Thank you for the reply, it is appreciated.

Appreciate the detailed info and links, this is encouraging to hear. I rarely use blocks, so that’s not much of an issue, I’m generally working with 3D models and generate blueprints from them.

Thank you for the reply - it is appreciated! I’m going to look at the link Japhy included and will check out yours as well, and the youtube videos and help topics as you recommended. I have worked in a variety of CAD programs in the past including Maya, Motionbuilder, Revit and Mudbox but that was quite a few years ago and well, I’m not as quick to pick things up these days (!) so hoping it will be similar enough to the programs I use most often, AutoCAD and 3ds max. I forgot to ask in my original question if Rhino has any simulation capabilities, like Inventor or Solid Works, that could make it a one-stop shop replacement for me if so. Will research that as well.