Is Rhino the right tool for this?

Hi everyone. Just joining the forum. I am a relatively new Rhino user and silversmith/watchmaker. I have been looking to incorporate 3D design tools into my process of making watch dials. I have used Shapr3d and Fusion 360 for some basic design and even Illustrator for vector designs. I am curious about the group’s thoughts on whether Rhino is a good tool for creating something like the attached image and then using a mill or fiber laser to then create the design in silver? Thanks!!

Hi @bob.emerick, in my opinion Rhino is a beast compared to the software you mentioned above - a much more professional option. I use Rhino all the time to set up complex CNC operations and laser cutting. I use RhinoCAM to generate tool paths for CNC milling and and just plain Rhino for laser cutting. Rhino is the base software for a whole ecosystem of tools – some paid and some free – that’s what’s so strong about this software.


Thanks Ryan. I suspected this was the case but wanted to throw this out for discussion and to learn a little. Since I’m just getting started with Rhino do you have any recommendations for learning resources or other things to consider? I may look at RhinoCAM for my CNC router at some point too. Mostly focused on the laser right now. Thanks again!

Hi @bob.emerick , what is the normal process you follow to do similar work? I guess your standard workflow is to sketch your design and then you sculpt it manually? (sorry, just guessing!)

I agree with @ryan.odom 's answer. Adding to that, Rhino gives you enough flexibility to approach your design process in very different ways.

However, it’s important to note that Rhino is not the best software for digital sculpting if that’s what you are aiming for. Based on the image you posted, I can see Rhino/Grasshopper being useful to create a repetitive but variable pattern (the stars), but then there is a lot of “manual” 3D modeling there more suitable for sculpting software (ZBrush or Blender).

So, is your intention to embrace a more generative design approach by learning grasshopper (you setting up rules, and letting the software generate the surface for you?)? Or are you interested in sketching the design and then using the software to translate that sketch to the digital for later manufacturing? Either way, Rhino/Gh would be extremely helpful.

I have tried to do intricate design before (not as much as that), and Dendro (gh plugin) has been a great tool for that.

Super interesting!

In my opinion the best way to learn Rhino is just to dive in and try to do what you want, googling/checking this forum when you run into an issue. This forum is an amazing learning resource in itself. Most questions that you could possibly think of have been asked and answered on here.

Rhinocam is pretty good, but extremely expensive. I would use Fusion 360 for CAM given the choice.

Here are video tutorials that McNeel puts together. You can find many others on YouTube and around the web. Also, here are the Rhino training guides complete with example files. Master all these exercises and you will be on your way to mastering Rhino.

Grasshopper is a very powerful part of Rhino but I would suggest getting to know Rhino’s curve and surface tools before you get into that stuff.

Hello . see this jewelry channel on youtube,



you can write paneling tools rhino in youtube it’s a plugins that can be interesting to your workflow.
I am not a jeweler.
but i know a lot of jewelers use rhino.

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Catching up on all the responses. Thanks so much for all the input!

@ign24680 my current process is very iterative and it would be great to have it be more generative/repeatable. Some things I am working towards will be more sculpture oriented like dragons on a watch dial vs. the stars shown previously, so that will require Zbrush or Maya or even Blender. Dendro looks really interesting!

@ryan.odom Thanks for the video pointers and definitely need to look at Grasshopper down the line.

Thanks @fares.boulamaali for the Youtube link. That is a nice reference too! I did see some references to integrating Adobe Substance Designer with Rhino too for some expanded surface creation options.


You will want to have a few tools at your disposal to do this. (just like you have on your bench for doing hand work)

You will want rhino and a sculpting software (zbrush, 3d coat, blender, mudbox, etc).

You’d likely use rhino for the base geometry, then pop over to zbrush to add details and hand sculpted forms. You will also want a CAM package that can handle polygons, as onc eyou go to zbrush or other sculpting programs you will be polymodeling.

check out the videos Thomas Wittelsbach makes for zbrush jewelry-

Thanks @theoutside for your perspective on this. I was thinking that I would need to marry up a couple of different platforms to do this effectively. I had been looking at Substance Designer and the texturing. Since the laser doesn’t have toolpaths like CNC, I think I will need to treat this more like 3D printing and layers from a STL file. So I need to look at how to combine rhino and the texturing from another product then output the STL files.

good plan… it’s just like any real workshop…many tools for the job. Use the best one for the task at hand.