Pointclouds in Rhino 6



For me the point cloud support in Rhino 6 is a great start and as others have said it could be improved dramatically by implementing some of the features of the now deceased pointools4rhino. In fact what I’m about to suggest is improvements to some of those features.

The current import options dialog for text formatted point clouds (i.e. xyz) is pretty poor. Take a leaf out of Pointools/ReCap’s book and display a preview of the 1st 50 or so lines, auto detecting what the delimiter is and what the fields are (typically xyz files are xyzirgb). Allow these to be changed and allow the ranges to be adjusted for RGB and intensity values. This is because some software and some formats have different ranges. For example Leica’s PTS has an intensity range of -2047 to +2048 whereas xyz typically uses 0 to 1.

ASCII and E57 is a good start but additional import formats would be next up. LAS is an obvious missing common format. Another ASCII format from Leica called PTX would be good as this retains the scanner information and can be used to estimate normals (ideally this would have an option to save a point cloud object per scan). Ideally you could sort out some deal with Autodesk and Bentley to read their formats, but I doubt that’s possible. Some other potential formats are Faro’s and Z&F’s both of which are used in many software packages now.

Additionally I’d like to see a simple sampling feature on import. This can be as simple as retaining x% of points radomly, or as complex as spatial sampling at a specified distance.

Pointools has several options for how the point cloud will be coloured that would be nice to see in R6. WIP seems to support only RGB. But it should at minimum aslo support intensity, with various ramps such as hue and greyscale as per pointools. In pointools these could be adjusted in real time with contrast and brightness sliders that would allow me to pick out details you might not otherwise see. It also includes planar shading, where the points are coloured based on distance in the normal direction to a specified plane.

Autoderk’s ReCap (and some other software I’ve used) converts the intensity values to RGB values on import/conversion. This is done I believe because Revit etc has decent support for RGB but not much else. It would be much better to retain the intensity and just colour it as Pointools does.

Pointools also supported multiple simultaneous shade modes. This meant I could display the RGB, instensity and even planar shading all at once. Most software doesn’t allow this, but it is incredibly useful especially when using planar shading, as you could still have greyscale intensity shading to allow you to see features in the data - see the image below to see what I mean.

Pointools also had an incredibly useful button to copy the current viewport display settings to every viewport.

The way I model from point clouds most often is using sections / thin slices of point cloud data. Pointools allows for changing the thickness of this section to any value I see fit, and the points can be displayed in white or using any shade mode. I would like Rhino to support this but in addition allow me to choose a display colour.

Personally I quite like 1 of the ways Pointools defined the section: using the perpendicular direction of a curve. So if for example I wanted a horizontal section (say for a floor plan) I could draw a vertical line. Pointools then allowed me to define a step distance along the line and to move my current section view incrementally at that step distance, adjusting the CPlane accordingly. Its also worth noting that as it sets the CPlane I can use the project snap mode to snap to the plane regardless of where the actual point is in my section thickness.

In Bentley’s Descartes in Microstation they’ve taken this a bit further. So say you want to draw a profile of an object at multiple intervals to create a lofted surface. In Descartes you can set up the section/step and draw the 1st profile, then when you jump to the next step it copies your profile to the next location, hides the previous 1 and allows you edit it as necessary. You can do this as many times as need and when done it builds the lofted surface automatically.

Additionally I think the point cloud section should cut the NURBS (or mesh) model and make the cut plane edges available for use. Using pointools I frequently setup a section, draw a planar surface and then intersect this with my model just to get the edge features at the section location to snap to when continuing my drawing / modelling. Ansys SpaceClaim does a good job of cutting models and making the cut-plane geometry available for use.



I never used PointTools, but wanted to.
Unfortunately, Bentley is infected with the greed virus, so they won’t allow it.
Their credo is “my way or the highway” (as all software rackets are these days (except McNeel!).

I agree with your requests for certain types of tools in Rhino.
If I had time, and brainpower, I’d try making my own in either Grasshopper or Rhino scripts.


I have been trying pointcloud use in WIP 6 - and have a problem/bug.

When doing an operation such as CurveThroughPt, as soon as I click the first point on the point cloud, the whole point-cloud disappears making it impossible to select further points -

Not sure if this is the right thread to post this in?

(David Eränen) #26

Hi @solosails,

This was also reported here: PointGrid: defect
A YouTrack item was made: https://mcneel.myjetbrains.com/youtrack/issue/RH-41159


Meanwhile, I would really recommend trying out the Volvox plugin for Grasshopper by @MateuszZwierzycki and Henrik Evers*

*Full disclosure: They’re colleagues, so I might be biased, that said I always make sure to give them a hard time!


Hi David, thank you.


Hi Anders, This is a great addition to Grasshopper - thanks for alerting me to it!



Can anyone recommend a good point cloud workflow in either Rhino 5 or 6.
Preferably one that does not require plug-ins.

I have a 3d scan of a room that I need to take from the scan file into Rhino and here recreate surfaces in nurbs to create an architectural 3d model.

I would like to know:

  1. Best file format to bring the scan into Rhino (E57, ASCII or other?)
  2. Best way to work with the scan in Rhino so I can isolate walls, pillars, ceiling etc. to model into Nurbs.
  3. Best way to convert the points into a mesh that can be rendered.

Thanks in advance.


I tried doing what you want to do, but found it difficult.
I haven’t found any simple method for converting point clouds into meshes in Rhino5.
I tried learning Blender, CloudCompare and MeshLab, but they are too difficult to me to learn at this juncture.
Instead, I use the point cloud processing software that comes with the scanner to convert the point cloud into a mesh, then export it as an obj file for Rhino to import it.
The only exception is when I create a small point cloud with a CMM/digitizer.
Then, I process the points exclusively in Rhino5 with a few basic tools.
But, if the mesh it too large, Rhino5 will choke on it.
I haven’t found good enough instructions on what tools in Rhino5 to use to expedite mesh editing.
So I’ve been working between the scanner’s native app, David3D/HP, MeshLab and CloudCompare.
It sucks, but that’s what I’ve been doing.
Thing about it is you have to have experience to know what software to use for what problems.
Otherwise, it can be very time consuming.
I didn’t buy any of the available modeling software b/c it’s too expensive for the amount of work I’ll do with them, for example:
Geomagic Design-X = $20k
Polyworks = $25k
DezignWorks = $14k
Creaform VXmodel = $6k
SpaceClaim = $5k
Including subscription only (= extortion slavery) vs. perpetual license issues.
I’ve tried using Mesh2Surface, and it works great, but lacks some tools I’d need to expedite processing meshes into surfaces. It’s under $1k, which is more in line with what these mesh processing software programs are worth.
One more thing:
Except for the very expensive programs, I found that nearly all the point cloud and mesh processing programs work ONLY with the hardware that does the scanning.
So basically, you’re forced by the criminal syndicate to “pay to play”.
Hopefully someone will introduce a new level of competition for these greedy thieves so they will drop their prices to a level that is more commensurate with the functions they provide, instead of the extortion that’s become the norm among these exploiters of the working class.
That’s my opinion for what it’s worth.
Cheers …


Wow! Now tell us what you really think.
Not saying you’re wrong, though.


Someone who provides a simpler solution at a cost is per definition not a thief. You can learn coding and start making a free software your self, and be the good samaritan for those who follow you. There are free solutions out there and if they are too difficult for you then you need to hire a more skilled worker for the job. That’s just how it goes, or you need to step up your game and learn the skills required for the job if you want it. Ranting here will do no good.


I’m curious:
What do you know about me that gives you the knowledge to judge me in order to defend criminals and their syndicates?
What kind of man are you that you would defend criminals and their syndicates?
What world nation do you live in?
Cheers … Chris


Keep a lid on it…


Easy there buddy…
There IS free stuff available that lots of professionals use and they are not that hard to use. I speak of experience. But this thread is about Pointclouds in Rhino 6 and wishes regarding the development, not ranting about other software being too expensive. So let’s move on and get back to work.


I’m looking for what works for a reasonable price.
What do the pro’s use that’s free that has a streamlined learning path?
Incidentally, what would you people recommend to mortenengl (I noticed nobody responded to his inquiry).
Cheers … Chris


Hi Chris, it would help if you define “reasonable”, as you have figured out: “free that has a streamlined learning path” is a rare combination. You have done the research and Cloudcompare and MeshLab is top of the line free stuff. Recap is a simple to use solution that might do what you need at a low monthly fee. You can also test VR-Mesh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=X1170OkA0Zw to see if that fits your bills.

We use pix4D to turn drone photos to mesh, it’s easy to use, reliable and also has a monthly fee so we use it when we need it. pix4D model is enough to just give a mesh, if you need a pointcloud then the bim version is required (but you can extract the vertices from the mesh into a pointcloud in Rhino.

For simple stuff i select points in the pointcloud in Rhino and then use meshfrompoints, it requires a bit of trail and error, but might be a good enough solution for you.


Thanx Holo.
I know about VRmesh.
I didn’t consider it b/c it’s seemed to be used for architectural instead of mechanical.
I know about Recap too.
Same with it (which Autodesk agrees with).
Pix4D looks interesting, but same thing.
This is all for architectural and AEC work, not machinery and such.
Yes, I’ve tried MeshFromPoints but it takes too much time.
Apparently, all the freeware and the lower priced ‘solutions’ are only for people who play with it and aren’t heavy into the daily grind of demanding RE work.


Ah, yes architecture and landscape are the only thing I have used pointclouds and meshes for.
This might be of interest for you though: https://www.slideshare.net/PetteriTeikariPhD/indoor-point-cloud-processing


While it doesn’t do ball pivot meshing, it does do voxelization (and is intended specifically for architectural workflows). Depending on your point cloud, you might also have luck with Dave Reeves’ Ball Pivot component.


Thanx Anders,
Here’s what I found that explains BallPivoting very nicely using graphics:

If I had time, like when I was young, I would delve into all of this.
But I don’t have the time.

That’s why I wish I had the coins to just buy a very expensive program to do the work I need to get done.
But I don’t.

Still looking for the holy grail, I guess!