Which 3D digitizer with Rhino - MicroScribe or what?

Hey guys, I am starting to look into which strategy we choose in terms of 3D modeling, checking of product surface shapes against our CAD models and reverse engineering.

I have worked with a MicroScribe many years ago, which back then worked ok but would have issues with tolerances.

What are your experiences using tactile 3D digitizers with Rhino for Mac?
Is MicroScribe still the way to go or are there better solutions (tactile measuring and product size of up to 500mm3 is a must)?
Which products are most compatible with Rhino (I remember back in the days, that the MicroScribe was beautifully integrated with Rhino but that was in the days of Rhino for Windows versions ~1 or 2 or thereabouts).

The measurement tolerances on the MicroScribe website of ±0.05 mm for their more prices compact model seems reasonable for surface checking work and reverse engineering - is there something more precise?

For what it’s worth, digitizer support is not there yet in Rhino 5 for Mac.

That’s really bad news Dan :frowning:

Is there any roadmap when it will be integrated - even in a beta form for willing testers?

I remember how fantastic it worked back with the Windows version of Rhino some years ago.
With our company we have transitioned entirely away from Microsoft products and do all computing on Mac hardware.

The daily workflow software all runs natively on Mac OS X, which is why I waited so long for Rhino for Mac to work as nicely as it does now.

It seems there are only three other Mac native software solutions, none of which fit our workflow.
Wouldn’t it be great for Rhino to offer Mac OS X MicroScribe digitizer support?

I am slowly (and painfully) coming to the conclusion that using Rhino professionally means running Rhino on Windows.

We have worked hard at trying to convey these differences and details.
Sadly, many people see “Rhino” and fill in the details with their own experiences.
I wanted to call it “Manatee” until it was closer to the same features as Windows Rhino, but that was a bad idea that would have caused it’s own problems.

This initial release of Mac Rhino was primarily focused on our core customers; industrial designers.
Over time, I expect most of the Rhino for Windows tools will make it to Mac Rhino.

The migration will be driven by the needs of Mac Rhino users, tempered by the differences of developing on two platforms, and not so much just because the tool is in Windows Rhino.

For our work I do run into limitations here and there with functions I would like to have.
But (and that is a big BUT), I always remember in such situations how I learned CAD design on Tebis 3.x a few years back.
Tebis was to CAD what a slide ruler in mathematics is to a calculator today.

While my co workers back then hacked away on Solidworks and Catia, I was happily 3D designing models and programming 5 axis CNC machines on Tebis.

You didn’t have many of the fancy tools but EVERYTHING was absolutely possible to accomplish.
The fun part back then was that while the Solidworks guys truly loved the automated filleting and solid modeling capabilities, every now and then they came to a screeching halt when Solidworks simply refused to fillet a really complicated spot.
As they have never learned to work such areas the hard way, they simply got stuck. That was when the guys on the Tebis machines had to give them a lift and do the trick bit work on these models - always a pleasure to help out and gloat for a moment :wink:

I work with Rhino for Mac now with the same attitude.
Sure I would love the fillet tools to be much more powerful and have better auto resolving to save me time by manually working corners and tight spots - but hey, it works.

I have to state though that I do absolutely no work in NURBS and that the work I have to do in solids is simply limited by the character of the products I design (aluminum die casting articles and tools).

Rhino so far works just fine for me.

I admit though that if Solidworks would offer an all out Mac version, I would have skipped the reminiscence of working in Rhino a few years back (mostly in prototyping work for automotive components) and just would have splurged on Solidworks.

I won’t get back into a Windows computer for daily work in our company ever.
The time and money spent on servicing and maintenance and the grief and headache these produce - no thank you.

In that sense, Rhino is currently the only game in town for serious CAD work on a Mac as I see it - for better or worse.

John, it would have indeed be a good idea to call it something else than just Rhinoceros.
Maybe Rhino “light” or keeping the version number at 0.x would have been a better choice.

But I went into Rhino for Mac with all eyes open, having followed the beta versions and actively used them over the years until the final version was released.
I knew what I was buying (the cost also clearly reflect that you do not get a full fledged version of the same as Rhino for Windows).

I went with the decision to go for Rhino for Mac for our business as we have a Mac only environment as for ease of use, low maintenance cost, limited downtime and happiness of employees.
I am “stuck” with Rhino for Mac and so far it served it’s purpose VERY well.

I just hope that Rhino for Mac will evolve (quickly) into a very powerful cutting edge CAD system for Mac.
3D work, prototyping, digitizing, designing is currently in a big revolution and many small businesses can now afford technologies in product development that formerly were entirely out of reach.

I remember still the insane cost of our large 3D systems wax printer we used to produce prototypes during development - insane!
You can now get the same thing for just a few thousand dollars - this is nowadays household money and easily within the financial capabilities of small businesses.

We need to expand our capabilities in metrology and digitizing NOW and I hoped Rhino for Mac would be able to handle that.
I think right now this would be a very important feature to work on Rhino (support for external digitizing equipment, focussing first and foremost on small business options as for example the MicroScribe) as of how fast the development in this area is pushing forward now.

Unfortunately most of the software and hardware combinations in your industry are developed exclusively for the PC (Windows). Its possible that Parallels/Bootcamp might allow for some of these solutions to run on a Mac, but at some point compatibility (or lack thereof) will surely be an issue.

Yes, this is very true.
There have been a few situations where compatibility is an issue and we resort to run a vanilla Windows10 installation in a Virtual machine to support such Windows only software.

For example do we run our Mahr hand measurement tools (Wifi connected to a metrology app which records measurements) this way - it works beautifully.

I am currently looking into which technical setup is necessary to use a MicroScribe AND keep working with the data (and preferably the recording/importing of data) with Rhino for Mac.

For one who is working on both platforms every day, I’d like the Mac version to quickly evolve to the same level as the Windows version (in every respect) - and that both versions in the (near) future continue to be developed at the same pace and side by side.


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That would be absolutely fantastic!

Unfortunately, we don’t have a roadmap or timeline yet for this. As I understand it, we don’t yet know if there are viable drivers for these devices that run on POSIX systems like OS X. We are investigating.

I suspect the thinking of the companies that develop capture hardware is if you are going to drop $10,000 - 20,000 or more on, purchasing a Windows laptop or desktop to go with it is just part of the associated budget. It does not add to their profits to develop a driver for a platform only a tiny segment of their market might have, and then provide continued support for it. Consider how long Faro has been around. They don’t have any Mac or Linux drivers …

Dan, thanks for the info - any updates in this direction, maybe even testing, I am absolutely open towards.

Only current limitation for our business is that our design office is in Shanghai/ China and importing a MicroScribe on a whim is not an option without knowing it will work within the Mac OS X environment.

Knowing a commitment say by Rhino, to develop support and a roadmap with a reasonable timescale (say 1 year to beta with regular usable test updates as with the Rhino beta builds) would be all that is needed for us to go ahead.
In a worst case scenario Windows support is there and we do run VM Windows installs for the last Dinosaur apps we need to use without OS X support.

Any update is highly appreciated.

Yes, the industry is pretty much 100% committed to Windows.
The current only support on the Mac OS side is specialty apps (as for dental design, etc …).

Rhino therefore has a very unique market position, as it is powerful enough for professional CAD work and runs beautifully on a Mac.

I have engineers and customers alike drop their jaw to the floor when they see our design studio for the first time and then hear the entire environment is based exclusively on MacPro and MacBook Pro machines, running everything natively on Mac OS only, as their interface sees absolutely no proof of that as we supply data and design on the exact same professional level they are used to work with.

The general attitude in the industry is “You can’t do this on a Mac” until the hammer drops of what we are doing - sheer disbelief.
Then when the talk about costs for IT comes up their faces turn bright red and quickly the topic is changed as of the immense black hole of service and maintenance cost a industry grade Windows environment is.

Too bad all the consumer iOS glitz and fancy gadgets and doodads Apple markets nowadays completely gloss over the fact that they are still producing a few truly powerful tools.

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I have worked with a MicroScribe many years ago, which back then worked ok but would have issues with tolerances
MicroScribes are a great little arm at a reasonably cheap price but limited in job size. Romer and Faro and others produce very good arms these days but at industrial prices of course. I couldn’t justify the $40-$50k price tag of a new arm so I bought a second hand Romer arm in very good condition a couple of years ago and paid less than $10k for it. I am very happy with it and it gets less than 0.01mm deviation on both the single point verification and known distance check which is more than enough for my work.
Regarding the Mac question, when you consider what an arm is worth (even second hand), the cost of the computer to run it is insignificant as a sub-$400 computer or laptop will run Rhino. Personally if it were me in your position, I’d buy a sub-$400 pc or laptop and use it exclusively for CAD/Rhino/Arm and your Mac for everything else and simply don’t admit to any of your friends that you own something Non-Mac.

Hahaha :joy:

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Tell me about those Romer and Faro arms (which this thread was all intended to be about) please.

Faro and Romer seem to be the top 2 PCMM (Portable Coordinate Measuring Machine) manufacturers although there are quite a few other manufacturers out there with good products too. I live in Australia and the price I get for each job doesn’t come anywhere near being able to justify the purchase of a new arm so for that reason I was on an extremely low budget. My Romer arm is a 9ft/2.5m version meaning its maximum reach from the centre is 4.5’, i.e. it can theoretically digitise anything within a 9ft/2.5m sphere. This sounded like more than I needed until I actually started digitising things and found that, and here is my case from a job the other day: The object was 1m x 1m x 300mm high and I was only just able to digitise it as the stylus needs not only to be able to reach the far extents but also the points closest to the arm. I could have turned the object on its side so that it was closer and the 300mm was closer/further from the arm however the object was curved glass and was much more stable when supported on its 4 corners. Moral of the story: get bigger than what you think you’ll need. Each to their own as far as the Faro/Romer debate but I’m happy with my Romer. I don’t use it for anything that needs certification so I don’t plan on getting it calibrated unless it starts returning more deviatation in accuracy than now (0.1mm at present which is fine for what I do). I work in Rhino for my surfacing and generally Solidworks for all my engineering type stuff so its great for me that the arm plugs directly into Rhino. Everything else needs a secondary program which generally cost upwards of $5k. I also bought an Artec Eva 3D scanner a year or 2 ago but recently sold it. The scanner was good but I really wasn’t getting sufficient work to warrant it. I’ve sent you a pm with my email address in case you have any other questions. Cheers Phil p.s. ¿Me imagino por tu apodo que hablas español? Yo también.

I can say that an OSX driver for the MicroScribe is currently under development at Revware. Assuming there are no limitations in Rhino for Mac, the digitizer plugin will be the first product utilizing that driver. So you all should see, fairly soon, the same tight integration you are used to in the Windows version.