Making Boat covers and upholstery

being very new to rhino6 and also digital manufacture of boat covers I am hoping to make contact with other canvas guys and gals, I really have just started this week as my new Proliner 3d has arrived and I am beavering away making some digital patterns to play with.

I have been trying Loft but I am way off with something I am doing and looking for some guidance in making my first digital cover.



check out the exact flat folks…they will be a good place to start with 3d to flat pattern making-

Thanks Kyle, I have seen exactflat and Mpanel but I’m not at that stage yet and the cost is prohibitive for me. i’m a one man band trying to grow my business. i’m really just getting started.

I am also 1 man band design consultant on top of being a mcneelie, and I can’t recommend enough just jumping in and buying the “good tools” to grow your biz.

The ROI on software and computers is insanely quick as the tools will save you a fortune in time and increased productivity. It always hurts to spend the $$ but in the 25+ years I’ve been doing this I’ve never regretted buying up in terms of better tools-

my .02…

best regards-

1 Like

I appreciate your advice but I’ve just spent £25,000 on a top of the line Proliner 3d and find myself a little short right now :slight_smile: still need to find another £20,000 for a cnc fabric cutting machine. thats a scary amount of money for me. I only paid £40,000 for my house !!!
I know I need more software but I really have to get what I have working to generate some cash flow first.

I hear you- I like to say " i 've done so much with so little for so long, that I can do almost anything with virtually nothing"


I do boat and yacht design and I fin ‘Exact Flat’ bewilderingly expensive and have managed to fulfill my work without it. I can only imagine how daunting the Exact Flat solution must seem to a canvas guy. There must be some middle ground.

Nice motto Kyle…

As you are new to Rhino, you may find some useful reading in these threads…

Thank you for the encouragement Joseph, I’m glad it’s not just me that think EF is pricey. I wouldn’t mind a few hundred pounds but last time I looked it was thousands !! I can’t justify that right now.
Right now i’m learning how to work in 3d on a flybridge cover for a trawler which is a paying job so I just need to make about a hundred of those and i’m on my way hehe…
I’m told I can edit and design a cover in about an hour but i’ve spent about 8 hrs on this first one so far !!

You Rock Brian , thank you. I found a great video on youtube by Tecsew which has taught me a lot already. They are the boat canvas ninjas in the UK. :slight_smile:
I will certainly spend some time on the links you posted, cheers.

1 Like

I’m saving my pennies for a Proliner. Using a Disto 3D right now which works, but is a tedious process.

My first lesson converting my captured dxf to Rhino is to add extra for your first covers. My first few were always to small… you can take away if too big, but not really add on if too small.

Use “squish” with CompressMostly or CompressOnly. This is 2D --> 3D relationship. So this makes the flattened panel slightly larger. Don’t use Smash for curved panels.

if you have multiple hard curves, cut a line though them, loft, or NetworkSrf each, then Surface Merge them on the 3D object then flatten. If you try to loft or NetworkSrc complex areas at once, it’ll come out wrong.

Try Loft, NetworkSrc, Sweeps. Each will work better then the other in some situations.

Then there’s the Mesh stuff that Pascal talks about… I’m lost there on that but need to learn more.

That’s my level 2 amateur tips. (=

1 Like

Wow Eric thanks for sharing some top tips with me, the canvas trade is great that way. I haven’t met a mean canvas guy or gal yet :slight_smile: Everyone in our trade is happy to share which makes the whole trade better for everyone.
I will try out those tips as soon as I can, I’m still working on my first scan of a flybridge cover from a trawler and it’s difficult with my tiny amount of knowledge so far but i’m getting there slowly. Next step is training in Holland with Prodim, it is part of the package.

I have heard that because of the accuracy of scanning a boat I should add 1" seam allowance and sew 1/2"

I’m in the UK but I trained in the US at Northcoast Canvas in Ohio and have many canvas friends all over the US.


I’m doing a 38 Caver SS right now. I’m adding 3/4" fore/aft to cover the “rounding over” of the bimini bar. When you hit the points on the bar, Rhino draws a straight line, so adding 3/4" gives that extra fabric OVER the bar to the back upper edge of the bar where we usually scribe for the bimini seam.

Sunbrella has a tad of stretch, but not enough to make up that much space!

Another bit of advice, measure the bars on the boat (or in CAD 3D model) and make sure your flatten panels are the right size. For example, I used Smash on my first job and the flattened panel was 2.5" short on a 8’ run and didn’t include the “budge” on the sides of the bimini that you get with higher center bows.

That makes a lot of sense, When you add 3/4" for frame allowance is that universal or you add 1/4" for every bar as a standard ?

I’m new too so not sure about “standard”. But I know if you cut it exactly like 3D CAD, it’ll be short because its not adding the curve over the front and rear tubes.

i have my first drawing almost complete and it looks good on the screen, tonight I will add seam allowances and reference marks and get it ready for cutting. If you have a little time could I ask you to have a quick look to see if it looks right ? flybridge cover - under construction 001.3dm (348.1 KB)

Unfortunately, I can’t open that file. I’m still using Rhino 5.

oops noob error, I do a lot of that :slight_smile: , i’ve saved as a Rhino 5 does this one work . flybridge cover - under construction 001R5.3dm (323.5 KB)

I believe your “fabric” panels should have matching sides. I tend to use NetworkSrc first and use the Join and split tools to make joined lines with at least 3 sides.

This is what I usually do when I first get me dxf

  1. select all and Join to connect all small line segments

  2. Split 3D lines (usually corners) into manageable panels but bimini tops should be one 3D panel modal where you split it down the middle after flattening for cutting on the table 60" fabric

  3. Use NetworkSrf on panels as you design…or use Sweep 2 sides or Loft as needed. The panels should all be touching in 3D (or very very close)

  4. Flatten using Squish. UnRollSrcUV is basically like advanced Smash which I’m not a fan off. Anything with advanced curves should use Squish unless you have expected outcome

  5. Add seams, offsets, extra, etc

  6. Split in CAD for manageable cutting (bimini)

Follow the UK video demos and pause, slowdown and watch what tools he uses. That’s where I started and he describes about 75% of what we need to know.

Thanks Eric ,sorry to bug you. It’s like a drowning man holding onto the guy in the liferaft :wink:

I’m keeping that file I posted but will go back to the raw dxf file and follow your system to see what I can do,

The plan is to email Prodim and book the training asap but i have to clear the workshop schedule to make some time first so will be a couple of weeks.

There was a lot of pausing going on with the youtube vid, mainly trying to track which tools he was using but I know the Tecsew owner through the internet and he tells me they have some custom addins, probably in house made scripts and exact flat, but they can afford it heh

Thanks Eric I really appreciate the guidance…