Dynamic Blocks function in Rhino, such as the one in AutoCAD - for Rhino 6 or already possible?

We miss a function such as the AutoCAD ‘Dynamic Blocks’. My team and I have made Rhino the nr.1 tool for doing our production work instead of AutoCAD that we used for 15 years. Luxury interior (production-) drawings look great and are quick to make. But…Dynamic Blocks is great in AutoCAD and missing in Rhino. It always saved us lots of time. Example: 1 type of screw, but in 5 different lengths, 5 different thread sizes. Now asks for 25 individual Rhino blocks. In AutoCAD it can be just one Dynamic Block. We make a setup of typical details at the beginning of a large project, sections in 2d. But want to make them 3d. By adding a value for the height and length of such a ‘3d typical detail’ we don’t have to move control points or scale the part. A dynamic block would just ask for these values. Did we overlook a possibility that is already there or could it be a great new function in Rhino 6? Looking forward to your replies, kind regards, Koert.


Hi Koert - there is nothing like what you suggest, no. You can of course redefine a linked block to point to a different file, which may help, but is not the same thing.


Hi Pascal, thank you for your reply. Pointing the block to another linked file would either change all identical blocks in the same model or the name would need to be changed. It would solve a single issue though.

Hi Koert – How exactly do the dynamic blocks work in AutoCAD ? Do you need the variations to be just object sizes and transformations ?


Hi Jarek, thanks for your reply. How AutoCAD’s Dynamic Blocks exactly works will take several pages to explain. And most of it we don’t use at all. That being said we are looking for the ‘light version’. We need an object to enlarge, but not scale. For example a box with a fixed material thickness. The box size needs to be able to change in dimension, but the material thickness should not. Scaling therefore is no option. Moving solid control points would do the trick. Just select the control points you want to move in one direction and the material thicknesses remain in tact. A box with a material thickness only has 16 control points, select eight of them, move them and the box gets larger or smaller. But with more complex shapes we easily end up with 10 times more control points. If we could permanently group or lock certain control points in the model it would work. The material thickness would always be locked for example. The box could go bigger and smaller without collapsing. Seems such an obvious function to be available already in Rhino, but appears not to be.
Regards, Koert.

Currently Grasshopper is your main option here… A variable dimension box with a constant material thickness is child’s play…


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Hello Mitch, clear solution and statement from your side. We will need to invest more time in Grasshopper in this case. Thanks for the example shown. Kind regards, Koert.

Hi Koert,

Obviously for ‘parametric’ objects Grasshopper is a great option to explore, as Mitch mentioned. I do realize though that it is a whole different workflow. Thanks for explaining the Parametric Blocks idea – seems nice but so far I don’t know how this could be implemented in Rhino.
One idea I had based on your description is allowing user to make and remember sets of EditPoints per object, so they can be easily retrieved and edited anytime. The way it would work has 2 components:

  1. Select the grip sets and name them - this info is saved into object data
  2. Anytime access the list of named selection (with multiple selection option) to for quicker edit.

Far from real parametric blocks (in fact, this would not be working on blocks) but it could be relatively easily scripted.
Would that help at all ?


Hi Jarek,
thanks for your answer. You are right, this could work very well! Scripting has not been necessary before, so we will need to look into that. Blocks have disadvantages like you wrote. Another thing that does not work with blocks is splitting / boolean etc. We would have to explode the blocks anyway. But with you idea that might even work?
Kind regards, Koert.

Any news on this side? Will there be a possibility for dynamic blocks in v6? Or shall we try with Grasshopper (which we don’t really know well)?

We are thinking to switch for our 2d production drawings to Rhino to replace the painful AutoCAD, since for the 3d design we already use Rhino.

We would still be very much interested in this feature. Working in 2d with Rhino has very little disadvantage compared to AutoCAD. The dynamic block functionality is an issue. We had a few mistakes along the way because of it. Importing a dynamic block is possible, but it shows all options at the same time. So all data is visible. The risk: when importing third party info you will not always be aware of these blocks. So imagine an arrow that points either left or right. But importing it into Rhino will make it a double sided arrow, pointing in two directions. Same goes for symbols that have multiple options. For example a wall socket, it has the option of a single, double or triple socket. Import it and you will always see the full amount, so triple in this case. Even when not using dynamic blocks you won’t see the difference from a normal block.


Does anyone have experience in making what in AutoCAD a dynamic block does in Grasshopper or Python? Is that possible?

We have a large library of dynamic blocks (technical details and so on) in AutoCad. If we can use them or make them in Rhino then we could switch entirely to Rhino.

I know Rhino was never intended to do what we request, but since it is almost capable… :slight_smile:

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I agree with the posts above as well. Rhino is almost there in replacing AutoCad in our engineering office as well for 2D work. Since we have worksheets in the same way that paper space exist in AutoCad we only need Dynamic blocks function/library to transfer our library of items or at least have the possibility to create new ones in Rhino.

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Same issue here. We want to kick away AutoCAD (architecture, furniture design). Rhino is almost there in being as good as AutoCAD for 2D drawings. Only problem: The mac version is very limited for layouts, has some bugs and dynamic blocks are missing. I see the future of Rhino in trying to be the only 2d/3d Application you might need. Especially for small companies. That would increase the client base enormously.

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Having dynamic blocks for 2d and 3d would probably the best thing ever done in a program. It would help creating and modifying everything soooo fast.
Imagine you have a construction/detail dynamic block in 3d. You drag it in, modify it the way needed and use the command section to create the 2d drawing needed for production?



A huge risk we run into with importing DWG and DXF, Rhino shows the dynamic block, but directly shows all options the block has. In some cases makers of dynamic blocks have a right or left version in mind. Long or short etc. The risk is this: we cannot recognize if a block is static or dynamic. Whether the maker wants to show an option or the full thing.
It would be GREAT if the functionality of these dynamic blocks would just stay in tact.


I totally agree! I wish McNeel would work on this topic also in the mac version for Rhino 6.


Any news on the ‘dynamic block’ feature?
or should we go the Grasshopper way?

Hi - for the foreseeable future, Grasshopper is the way to go here.

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Hi Wim, my humble oppinion: if Rhino solves this issue there is no need to have AutoCAD anymore. The 2d part of Rhino is strong enough. But as soon as one imports an AutoCAD file the dynamic block goes nuts. It basically shows every single option the block has. So because Rhino doesn’t know how to handle this Rhino also becomes unreliable. The one piece of software that was great at converting nearly every file format now fails at converting the most used engineering format. We really hope it gets prioritised. Kind regards, Koert.

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