The high price of Plugins

I might have to do that. Like uncle Bob said…

Mr McNeel,

That is a very seasonal reply, it reminds me of something said to me on Christmas Eve…

Here is a tutorial by a very dedicated sculptor, with excellent examples of her work… In a context of Rhino, networksurf, T-Splines and additional software. She sets the bar quite high.

Regards, Greg

I present myself as the product manager of Clayoo. We are working on 2.0 version, have you ever used the 1.0? What do you think about it?
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to write me, i’ll be glad to answer.


Regards, Xavi

I hate to sound like an old-timer, but the price of software (and plug-ins) has never been cheaper. The power-to-value, which I have never calculated, must be astronomically high.

I remember learning Alias on an SGI workstation at college in 1997. That set-up would have run you $100,000. Rhino sells to students for $138 and runs on pretty much anything that will boot. When my students tell me “that’s too much money!” I tell them to check their cell phone bill and then remember that a Rhino license is equal to their tuition … between breakfast and lunch … on one single day of the semester.

Not to mention, Rhino 5 in 2014 is light years better that the Alias from 1997. It’s an investment, people! So, yeah, my students do make faces at me when I talk like this. It’s still true, though.


I should have been more informative… Relative to the cost of Rhino 5 (and the depth of that program… and support) I find find the cost of plugins to be more expensive than the host program (that being Rhino).

Rhino is not a plug-in, and it is function for function a best buy when choosing a 3D Modeling program.

I can remember spending $1800 in the early 1980’s for a 20Mb hard drive. It seemed expensive at the time and still does.

And Dave!.. You make great tutorials, I look forward to your new work on “Linda”

Again it depends on your market. If you look at CAM for example, professional level software is astronomically expensive. Even at 2-5 times the price of Rhino, RhinoCAM and MadCAM are very reasonable for CAM software.


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I think the prices for CAM are high, because of there specialty market, more than for the actual complexity of their software.

I use RhinoCam, and find its level of perfection somewhat suspect, not near the level of excellence from Rhino. I have told them so on a few occasions, but they feel justified in charging what they charge … and I feel justified in complaining!


Thank you! Glad to hear it. I just finished my fifth one last week on Architectural Rendering. If you’re interested, the full list is on my author page. I’m doing a live webinar for Novedge tomorrow; the title is Killer Rendering Tips.

Software prices often have nothing to do with the actual time and complexity of their development and everything to do with customer base, what the customer is willing to pay, what the ROI is, as well as what the competition looks like.

We all thought that when inexpensive CAM software started to hit the market in the 90’s that it would force all the others to drop their prices radically. Hasn’t happened. Initial software investment just isn’t an issue for most companies bigger than a few people, time spent learning/maintaining it as well as time required to produce something with it are much more important.


Mitch makes some great points.
If everyone that used Rhino, also needed CAM tools, then the number of users to spread out the cost of support and development is quite large, so the price of an individual copy can be quite low. Business viability being measured as area under the curve, units x price. Additionally, if all Rhino users needed CAM, we would probably have included CAM tools in native Rhino tools.

CAM [insert any plug-in category here] is only used by a subset of Rhino users and just because a smaller number of users need it does not mean the tools are any easier to develop or support. The costs of development and support are carried by a smaller number of users so the price has to be higher.

Competition plays into pricing too but competition can’t drive the price down below the costs of development and support, unless the tool is subsidised by something else with a higher profit margin.

Sorry if my remark is off topic here, but I feel it needs to be included.
R5 mesh functionality changed by the need to handle large meshes with less lag.

In R4, disjoined meshes could not be joined. In R5 they can, and this causes problems in a lot of people’s workflow.
I am using this as an example, where some type of user’s priorities effected others.
I know Rhino cant please everybody’s priorities, but to loose existing functionality must be something to be avoided.

Hi Yianni- but this is not the case- disjoint meshes can be joined in V4.



I m sorry Pascal, I go by memory. I don’t have R4 installed.
I do not mean to dispute you, but can you double check?
When was the case that meshes that do not touch cannot be joined? R3?

Hi Yianni, I realize this does not directly impact your overall point, but as far as I recall disjoint meshes have always been able to be joined.


There must be something really wrong with my memory :frowning:
I truly apologize for making a false claim.

In fact, I found that we have discussed the exact same thing here: Command: _ShowEdges fails to detect naked edges in meshes
I should have gone back and bumped that thread.
Again, sorry for the intrusion…

The only factor missing that affects the final price is “Greed”, which has to play a part in some of the software I own (I am not relating to Rhino) But to some of the CAM software currently in the marketplace.

Why so frustrated?
There are cheap and even free CAM software out there that can do the job.

Plugins like T-spline didn’t move away from Rhino due to greed, but rather because the plugin market is small. Investing years in development requires payback and most resellers can tell you that the plugin market is not huge.

Many small users want to stick to the vanilla version, even if buying a plugin for 1000 can save them 2000 on one single project.

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To Holo, John and Mitch,

As I work with version 3.5 of T-Splines (30 day demo) I am impressed, by its depth, variety of control and potential to solve some of my transitional issues… I feel it will be an asset (at $675) and allow me to further my modeling envelope.

The jury is still out on RhinoCam, When I first bought it it was $950, and there does not appear to be an upgrade path, forcing me (if I want the new version) to spend another $1200. And the issue I have with the program and my history with it , is that it has been buggy and caused Rhino to crash, and it is the middle piece of software to complete the CNC process. With Rhino pulling the Lions share, allowing construction of the model, RhinoCam setting up the path-work and posting, and Mach 3 to take the posting and control the motors etc … By the way, Mach 3 does a large part of the CNC process, is a stand alone piece of Software that cost me $300. That is why I regard RhinoCam with some suspicion.


If you paid $950, you bought the version “Standard” a number of years ago I assume - “Pro” was/is $4000/5000. Mecsoft policies for upgrades are different from McNeel’s, they want you to pay for every version in between, whereas you can still upgrade to V5 from V1 of Rhino for the same price as from V4. Well, every software manufacturer is free to set their sales and service practices as they see fit and according to their business plan. Few companies are as enlightened as McNeel in this regard.

The main issue again is ROI (return on investment). Does RhinoCAM (or any other plug-in software, or even Rhino itself) earn you enough money to warrant its investment in money and time? Is there any other software out there that can do the job better/cheaper? Those are the questions you need to ask, IMO.


The native subD tool not ruled out… that is very good news !