What is Rhino's equivalent of a reference file in another CAD prog?

I am told from a CAD user that they can import the final model from another file into their current model, as a reference file, a lightweight version that will also update should the source be altered.
example…create an engine in one file and import it into the aircraft assembly file , change the engine size in the engine file and it updates in the aircraft assembly file.

Furthermore it might be useful not to bring in all the layers associated with the engine model, making even more busy the existing layers palette. Imagine the layers in there after wings , tailfin, undercarriage etc are all introduced.

I also wonder about effect on file size, having seen file size go from a few Mb to 70Mb just with a few semi spherical gulleys created from block instances of spheres.

Would the reference file overcome such ?


Have a look at blocks - external references inserted into a Rhino file, as well as Worksessions - attching a file or a series of files “temporarily” into another one - you can see, snap to etc. all the geometry in the worksession files, but not alter it.


article at http://wiki.mcneel.com/rhino/usingblocks says …
Make a box, and save the file. (did that)
Open a new file, and call Insert. (did that)

Use the File button in the dialog to navigate to the box file.
(this needs rewording,… I presumed that was File>insert so did that, located the box file (option for embed or linked etc, no advice so went with default)
Insert it as a block instance. (it was set to Insert so went with that)
Make several copies of the block - scale, rotate, move these to taste. (did this)
In another instance of Rhino, open the box file and fillet the edges. (did that)
Make a sphere. (did that)
Save the file. (did that)
Go back to the file with the inserted blocks and start the BlockManager command.

You will see a reference to the inserted box file. I see it showed the box file saying not linked
Select it in the list and click Update. (did so but Update is greyed out)

where did this go wrong ? Its missing an instruction line, probably saying to select linked ? !

The instances in the file should now all be filleted boxes with a sphere. …nope as unable to update.

This aside,

What you are saying is make the final engine a ‘block’ then follow that above when it works.

Any changes to it in the engine file will update across to the aircraft assembly file ?

With it as block, given the fun and games I get with block not changing colour when put onto a different layer, or not being able to be used to boolean with etc, will this cause such fun and games whilst I continue to work on the engine ?


When you type “Insert”, you’ll be shown a dialog box with a nice big “Help” button at the lower right. That’s a good place to start. From there you’ll learn about blocks and all the ways you can make them work as you wish.

Skipping the rhino article and doing that gives more info as you say. Definitely an instruction line missing for the linked bit.

I read the worksession data in McNeel but could do with an example talk through or video like in the block, this time without errors.

Not sure if a single user can use worksession and the restrictions it places on the ability to place the engine in the assembly file, and other aspects of worksession. It would become clearer with some examples, a tutorial etc.

Also which is best, BlockInstance the engine and fight with any restrictions blocks gives on the source file, as I have found out as indicated, or worksession. I cannot have the ability to work on the engine inhibited in any way by the entire thing being a block.

Some experimenting needed but any videos on all this and use of both together welcome. I cant see any examples after googling.


You should focus on blocks and forget about Worksessions for now.
Blocks will give you all the features you need, being inserted as a block in one file doesn’t change it’s nature as a standalone file that you can edit in any way you’d like.

Single users can use Worksession. I use it frequently when creating a model based on a very large mesh from photogrammetry.

Confused a bit now :smile:

I am creating a model from photogrammetry at the moment, though importing the 3dm file exported from Photomodeler Pro.

What photogrammetry program are you using David ? I also am trialling their scanner prog, creates meshes from pics, unfortunately the set of pics taken for standard photomodeler are not suitable for scanner, a different set of views and coverage are required, one can use both on a subject, it just means taking even more photos, many more.


I use PhotoModeler with discrete targets and points, and PhotoScan for dense point clouds. I also have PhotoModeler Scanner but have not used it for dense point clouds yet. I continue to be impressed by how well PhotoScan works and the standard version is very affordable.

Cheers David,
I have sent a PM.
I must take a look at Photoscan I think, also alternatives to EOS Pmod Scanner, if such exist.