(Rookie) Pls HELP! are we using Rhino correctly for what we are trying to achieve

We are a marine canvas company, and use Rhino4 to edit and flatten our 2d and 3d patterns/frames, digitized using a Prodim. We then import into Rhino to flatten to prepare for the cutting process. Just wondering if someone can advise if we are going about this the most efficient and effective way, as it takes a few days and more often than not, the finished product is not accurate.
Please be gentle, we only do the way we have been shown, and do not understand why we do it this way

We import the digitized 3d pattern/structure from the prodim into Rhino

Creating 4 layers

  • External (red)
  • Internal (dark green)
  • Surface (cyan)
  • Line (dark blue)
  1. highlight all, group together

  2. setting current layer to ‘‘external’’, we “trace over” the digitised lines using “Polyline”& “Line through curve”

  3. In perspective view we ensure we have not picked up any “Z” lines, if we have, control points on and move them appropriately

  4. once entire piece has been “traced”, we copy the whole thing, and delete the “group” from the copied piece, leaving us with the traced lines only.

  5. with control points on, we smooth the lines out, being careful as not to alter the shape digitized.

  6. Once happy we join lines to create 4 sides

  7. current layer “surface” we use sweep to rails, using the shaded viewpoint to see where there is more shape (also checking we have split using copy in the correct area)

  8. if there are any internal markings, we change to the “internal” layer and project these to the surface

  9. changing to layer “line” now we use smash (changing settings to explode: no label: yes)

  10. when they have been smashed, we rotate/or mirror according to labelling (if we needed to split using copy we then join back together using orient)

  11. then we use Curve-Curve from object-duplicate boarder - deleting the surface

  12. we then group the remaining, export as dxf and place into Accumark for pattern processing, marker creations and finally cutting.

I think the biggest issue is that we are having to either split the big piece too many times to ensure the most accurate flat finished piece and its all abit trial and error, it also takes a lot longer than preferred to go from field to cutting

I’ve been looking into plug ins that look to eliminate the process of splitting, (the one that looks most appropriate is “Exact Flat” but thought we might just see if we are utilizing Rhino the correct way, or is it the process we take that is the issue.

I am trying to re learn after being out for about 5 years, and the person teaching me isn’t sure why we do it this way, and said its more or less, a lot of trial and error. Surely not!

Thank you in advance for any help/advice! And apologies if this is hard to understand, I am doing the best I can! :confused:
Kind Warm Regards

Hi Kylie,
These are all very valid questions!

I think for that, this is a good read:

Note that smash is not all that reliable for flattening surfaces.

In any case, double curves surfaces will not be possible to convert in accurate 2D patterns without deviations.

Can you share ( a model or picture of) the type of surfaces you are trying to flatten?


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Hi Kylie - you might try Squish rather than Smash for the flattening - it may take some fiddling with the settings but will probably yield better results than smash. Usually. It does depend on the surfaces mesh (render mesh) so to work around that it is worth meshing the surface first- using the detailed controls in the Mesh command (more info here - http://wiki.mcneel.com/rhino/meshfaq )
then squish the resulting mesh.


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Hi Willem!

Thankyou for your time! I am currently reading through the link supplied, in the mean time, here is 2 dxf file’s of the type of surface’s, it is just a trial but majority of our things will look like the GBBB.dxf (this is a bow cover) and KBP.dxf (the one I am having the most issues with)
Mainly, I just want to make sure we are making the most of Rhino. And if we don’t need extra plug ins ect.GBBB.dxf (17.2 KB)

Again, THANKYOU :relieved:

  • Kylie

KBP.dxf (24.4 KB)

Hi Pascal!

Thankyou! I did read a few things on Squish, I did briefly look for it, but didn’t have much luck, Thankyou for the link, I am currently having my mind blown! :smiley:

Thankyou again

  • Kylie

Also, @pascal & @Willem
Would you suggest we arrange an upgrade for our current Rhino? Or am I better to get my head around V4 (what we currently use) first?
I am trying my best and I feel the more I understand the Why, I will get a handle on the How.

  • Kylie

Hi Kylie,

I’d definitely upgrade, as soon as, V5 is a good advancement on V4 with some really nice features.

I was just looking at your file and wondered how I would approach it and came up with a method which may be of use:

Save as a rhino file;
Group all geometry from digitiser;
Create a parent layer to place digitizer layers as it’s sub-layers (so the parent can be locked and turned on/off and keep the layerset for reference);
Zoom into the level layer geometry;
Create 2 construction lines at Rhino’s x and y, typing 0 for first pts to ensure accurate placement;
Use ‘Orient3Pt’ command to match your filed origin with Rhino’s origin, again typing 0 for Ref and target first pts;

Zoom extents to see how things look;
If necessary, create alignment geometry to straighten up your digitiser input to a friendly orientation;
‘ProjectToCPlane’ your alignment geometry;
‘Rotate’ everything using 0 as the rotation centre and the alignment geometry;
‘Move’ everything so that a desired point on the input is at zero, type 0 for move destination;
The input is now much easier to inspect

There are differing ways to build the model wires, of course, one way is to create points at you Z legs;
‘CurveThroughPt’ will deliver a nice curve to start with;
‘Rebuild’ the curve if it looks a bit wonky;

Use ‘MoveUVN’ on the control pts to line things back up to the Z-legs;
Adjusting N in this case will do the trick;

Build your surfaces;
use ‘UnrollSrf’ as a first choice, then ‘Squish’ if that doesn’t work, check out the help on these, it says there that ‘smash’ is for stretchy, rubbery materials;

You could join the surfaces before unrolling and choose not to explode, which will keep things under control, then you could explode after flattening and rotate the pieces together.

Don’t know how the cover should look, but here is the file I played around with;

GBBB test.3dm (113.0 KB)

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Good Afternoon Brian!

Thankyou for your time and your play around. I am blown away by how much easier this process looks, compared to how we have been doing things! I love the idea of matching our machines origin with Rhinos!
The amount of times we get lost zooming and panning all over the show!

I have just downloaded the 90day trial of Rhino 5, to get me through in the meantime, and am in discussion’s with the boss for the upgrade. (loving the easy to use tabs at the top! :smile: )

Thank you again, and THANKS TO EVERYONE ON HERE! I don’t know how we have survived without the Forum!

Warm and Fuzzy Regards
Rookie Kylie :blush:

Just having a look at the other dxf Kylie, it may be useful to split the curves at natural places, after you’ve created them and before building the surfaces and use ‘EdgeSrf’ between the 2 part curves, as the fabric will stretch between these curves and this will give a developeable surface. Then join the other bits back on for the unrolling.

Once the surface is flattened, you can further refine the edge curves and add a bit of an offset for a trial fit.

p.s. I’m sure you could ignore some of these z-legs where they bunch up and use instinct to tidy up.

KBP Test.3dm (148.2 KB)

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