Love Grasshopper But

I love the idea of grasshopper and I’m determined to learn it but I’ve been wondering lately what the use for it is. I see many examples of convoluted surfaces that have no practical value and can’t be produced other than on a small scale and on a 3D printer. Cool to look at but that’s about all. Some impressive building structures have been designed but I doubt they will live anywhere other than in a computer model.
There have been a few examples of shapes that use flat plain objects which are more manufacturable. I have a CNC router that I use to make stage backgrounds and set pieces. I hope to use Grasshopper for this purpose but maybe its more for contorting surfaces?
This is an example of a stage background I designed. I used the contours of the painting by Van Gogh called Starry Night. I didn’t use Grasshopper for this probably because of my lack of understanding. Or maybe it isn’t an applicable tool.

As you can see I’ve used Autodesk’s free 3D viewer because I haven’t yet found a better way to share files in Rhino.
I guess I would just love to see more designs with some practical use.
My two cents.

Dheis, I work in the Architectural Fabrication industry and over the last 4 years or so of working in Rhino Grasshopper can now do things in a week that would take a team of experienced people months.

Granted there were times that may have taken a few years off my life, but what is truly meaningful isn’t always pleasant.

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”

― Terence McKenna


Grasshopper is about automating CAD work… It’s a visual scripting tool, and it does it quite well. The main issue is that it’s not able to fully automate Rhino, but this is rather an issue with Rhino. And of course Rhino itself has its own limitations (just as any other CAD software).

Still Grasshopper is a tool of many professionals. However, the surrounding hype is an academic one, and so all the fancy things you read about are impractical or abstract use-cases. Simply because students are naturally inexperienced working people…


I own an architectural woodworking company. I use grasshopper daily for all kinds of projects. Placing drawer glide and assembly holes, drawing cabinets and stairways, time card conversions (from hours and minutes to hours and tenths of an hour). I use it to draw drawers for cabinets. (that is super fast and handy for a bunch of reasons), I use it to draw “tabs” or “bridges” to hold pieces in place on my CNC. I use it to distribute drawer parts and cabinet parts on to sheet goods. I have used it to plan food requirements for an 18 day bike packing trip. (no really, it drove my wife crazy, but it was a nice GH definition). Plus, just a bunch of other cool projects. I use it to figure out material requirements, and on and on. Grasshopper is, at its core, just another programing language. As such its uses are only limited by the users experience with it and by their imagination.



Wow cimarronlofting!
That is encouraging! Can I ask the way that you learned Grasshopper? I’ve ordered a book because I find the tutorials blast through stuff so fast it isn’t worth watching. I do a fair amount of CNC woodworking such as signs, carvings, set design/build, and a few mass production products. I will pursue my training now with diligence.
ALSO! I am a bikepacker too! Planning on a trip from Oregon to Illinois next year on my new Co-Motion Americano that should arrive here in Sept. I’m an old dog but like new tricks.

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I do like a challenge. I’m retired so the world is open to me for adventure. CAD Design work is where I find my zone.

Yes its a balance between CAD design theatrics and having a practical outlet. Some people are not fortunate enough to put their creative power to work in a physical instead of just a digital world.

Btw, the most practical way in learning Grasshopper is to manually model a shape and then think about how to reproduce this in GH. It usually becomes frustrating when you notice a feature does not exist, is differently named or lacks what a mouse click can give you. Furthermore understanding data management is important. It has a steep learning curve, but for 2d work it’s easy enough. It’s also good to know when Grasshopper is not the right tool. Especially because Rhino offers various Array/Morph tools and it has simplistic ‘History’ feature. I’ve created many production parts in automotive, but it forced me to develop own surface tools. Free-form surfacing in GH is a pain.

Thanks Tom,
I’ve used the paneling tools and find them to be good but limited. I was in automotive stamping tooling production engineering with Mitsubishi but on the management side. Our guys used PTC software, which I spent a little time using. Now retired and so glad I was exposed to CAD enough to use it as a hobby now.

I learned Grasshopper by a method that I call brute force learning, wherein I pound my head against a problem until some thing gives. I then explore what ever has opened up from that effort. Many many hours working on GH’s learning curve. I am not quite to retirement age but in the older group for learning this new digital manufacturing method. So the learning curve is brutal. Like you said, so many of the tutorials move through things so fast it is hard to get anything out of them. Also most of the people doing tutorials take short cuts and leave things out. A lot of components have a default value assigned to them. For example List item uses zero for the default index item. Well if you are completely new to grasshopper, not seeing a value plugged into that socket can really confuse you. I think what happens is that by the time someone is good enough to do a tutorial they have forgotten what they did not know when they started. Couple that with the fact that a lot of instructors (Most?) are not trained to be teachers and it becomes quite a challenge. I do think that Andres Gonzales with McNeel Miami is a really good instructor for beginners. He is good period, but especially for the new devotee. I flew across the country to take an in person class from him and it was well worth it. I also have paid to take classes on line from Parametric House. I have gotten a lot from him, but it may be because I have some experience at this time. Then I would say practice, practice, practice. Even if I have a working solution, I will routinely start from scratch, just to get that opportunity to rethink the problem and solution.
Good luck. BTW biking in Idaho rocks, we rode the Idaho Hots Springs Mountain Bike route a few years ago. Really a nice time.

Hi Dheis,

I also love Grasshopper and I’m trying to use it in my current workflow for architecture. Recently a research company working with concrete printings asked some young architects to design something to use in a real project to test their printing methods. So I tried to reach their limits. Grasshopper helped me a lot to achieve this structure, only with rhino or another software would have been a nightmare, every row is different from the other one, depnding on the sun-angle. See images below, It’s only concrete without reinforcement!


That is Super cool!!! I am impressed, nicely done!!


I like it! Would be great as a fence wall too.

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