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Rhino 3 drives Queen's University's solar car project

Rhinoceros 3.0 is a key tool in the Queen’s Solar Vehicle Team (QSVT) project. This excellent CAD program is incredibly effective in all aspects of solar car design. The powerful NURBS modeling system accurately describes the complex free-form curves we work with to optimize aerodynamic performance. We can effectively integrate components drawn in many other programs to build a single model. We can find and fix clearance, tolerance, and ergonomic problems before committing any money or material.

The QSVT chooses Rhino not only for its effective rendering and visualization ability, but for its compatibility as well. Rhino can export and import more than a dozen different formats, from raw triangles to IGES to STEP and others. Airfoil profiles in AutoCAD formats, mechanical assemblies drawn in Solid Edge, and many other components are easily integrated into the car model. And if our Fluent CFD analysis illuminates a specific problem with the airflow, we can change that part of our design quickly and effectively using Rhino’s intuitive control point interface. Importing airfoil curves is easy; Rhino lets us generate curves and surfaces from point clouds, meshes, AutoCAD files, and just about anything else we can come up with.

New team members routinely applaud Rhino’s many tutorials and the helpful workbook. As they quickly pick up the software, the Command Line interface becomes their new best friend, allowing for even faster and more effective control of the design. Even experienced managers quickly come to prefer Rhino over programs that retail for ten times as much. With a bit of practice we can sketch in 3-D to ten microns of precision, faster than we can put rough 2-D sketches on paper.

We also make good use of the multiple monitor and multiple process support in Rhino. When dealing with the full model of a solar car, which might include separate blocks for the aeroshell, chassis, wheels, suspension, hatches, and driver mesh, the ability to spread the layout over several monitors and several files is an invaluable tool. With block entities cross-linked between files, we can work with dozens of components at once, updating links in real time, even on older Pentium III machines.

You can find out more about our team and our projects at

rhino/studentstories.txt · Last modified: 2016/02/03 by sandy