Best Marine Design Software for Hull Modeling? (2006)

Discussion in 'Software' started by Admin, Jan 1, 2006.


Which program(s) do you use as your primary hull design software?

Poll closed Jan 1, 2007.
  1. Autoship (Autoship Systems Corporation)

    16 vote(s)
  2. DefCar (DefCar Engineering)

    2 vote(s)
  3. Fastship (Proteus Engineering)

    9 vote(s)
  4. FreeShip

    39 vote(s)
  5. HullCAO (HullCAO)

    3 vote(s)
  6. Hull Form (Blue Peter Marine Systems)

    7 vote(s)
  7. Maxsurf (Formation Design Systems)

    53 vote(s)
  8. MultiSurf (Aerohydro)

    8 vote(s)
  9. Naval Designer

    4 vote(s)
  10. Prolines (Vacanti Yacht Design)

    5 vote(s)
  11. ProSurf (New Wave Systems)

    10 vote(s)
  12. Rhino (Robert McNeel & Assoc.)

    55 vote(s)
  13. SeaSolution

    3 vote(s)
  14. TouchCAD

    6 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. Admin
    Joined: Jun 2001
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    Admin Administrator

  2. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Was somewhat surprised to not see FreeShip in here.... my own preference is to sketch a hull in FreeShip and go back-and-forth with Michlet to optimize it, then transfer the FreeShip hull to Rhino and rebuild it there for most of the modelling. Something like AutoCAD then handles the detailing and dimensioning. I am of the opinion that no single software can cover every angle of engineering (although there are suites of linked programs, such as Maxsurf and of course the $12,000 shipyard suites, that have most of the desired elements for yacht design.)
    edit- found freeship, it's in the "low cost" poll- but I still think it's a great program in which to begin a more elaborate design, the tiny files and intuitive interface are perfect for getting ideas down in 3-D
  3. Caldera Boats
    Joined: Nov 2005
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    Location: Oregon, USA

    Caldera Boats Beer4Ballast......

    2nd that on FreeShip! :)
    FreeShip is as good as, if not better that some of the more expensive programs. And of course, best of all FreeShip is FREE!
  4. Jeff
    Joined: Jun 2001
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    Location: Great Lakes

    Jeff Moderator

    FreeShip has now been added to the above poll (1/02/06)
  5. skegarus
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: queensland, Australia

    skegarus New Member

  6. Gilbert
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Cathlamet, WA

    Gilbert Senior Member

    The method I have used is to make a text file of the coordinates of either longitudinal curves for hard chine hulls or section curves for "bent frame" hulls as outlined in the manual. It is tedious but not outrageously so. You mostly have to be careful about not making errors. And of course if your autocad hull transom or stern is not at x=0 you should subtract or add the difference from all the x values. Likewise with the y values if the lowest point of the hull is not at y=0 or z=0, depending on whether it is a 2d or 3d representation in your autocad drawing. These curves will be markers in your freeship drawing.
    There may be some other way. ???????? Anyone want to enlighten us.
  7. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    Location: Ontario

    marshmat Senior Member

    Freeship is gaining new file import/export formats as it evolves. IGES is implemented in the current version and its capabilites are reportedly being tweaked and possibly extended in future. Given the speed with which this program develops, I think you'll solve your import problem by simply waiting a few months.
  8. antonfourie
    Joined: Oct 2005
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    Location: London

    antonfourie Senior Member

    What about TurboCAD ?
  9. ass_ra1
    Joined: Feb 2006
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    Location: INDONESIA

    ass_ra1 New Member

    looking for marine software

    i'm looking for software for marine design like :1. hydromax pro 2. hullspeed 3. multiframe marine... i need price list .. any body can help.. or where i can find that... pls mail me to or
  10. Andrew Mason
    Joined: Mar 2003
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    Location: Perth, Western Australia

    Andrew Mason Senior Member

  11. Raggi_Thor
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    Location: Trondheim, NORWAY

    Raggi_Thor Nav.arch/Designer/Builder

    I am trying out RhinoMarine v 3.5 now, it's a lot of new features.
    Even if FreeShip is great for initial design (and it's free!), I think Rhino with RhinoMarine may be better in later stage.
  12. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member


    I agree with Raggi's view that FreeShip is pretty interesting as a package and it has come a long way since first being introduced, but there's a big jump from there to the stuff that Rhino can do as routine, higher order, modeling functions. You can see that in the pricing disparity between the two.

    There are several pretty good hull design packages under $1000. Two, that I know of, (though there could be others) also allow you to further model the hull, the details of the interiors and the layout and modeling of the small stuff like winches, hardware, etc. Those two are ProSurf3 and Rhino. Of those two, ProSurf is much stronger as a dedicated, hull design package as it was developed specifically for that application. Rhino was developed as a full use modeling application that can be used for boat modeling, especially when coupled with the plug-ins from Rhino Marine.

    As a result, Rhino is amazingly powerful for all the modeling tasks of the complete boat and not just the stuff below the gunnels. The one single issue I have with the current issue of Rhino is the lack of good CAD tools for outputting the technical drawings needed to build a boat. That shortcoming is being addressed in Rhino's next version and then I'll be able to curtail a lot of the CAD work I presently have to do now in another package.

  13. Raggi_Thor
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    Location: Trondheim, NORWAY

    Raggi_Thor Nav.arch/Designer/Builder

    Chris, I use BricsCad, IntelliCad or AutoCAD to make the final drawings.
    The command "Contour" in Rhino makes all the sections you want (these are automatically updated with RhinoMarine). The sections are exported to dwg, then I have some lisp routines that put each section on it's own layer and creates one layout for each section, withe title block, a small 3D showeing where you are in the boat etc, etc.
  14. bhnautika
    Joined: Feb 2006
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    Location: australia

    bhnautika Senior Member

    I agree with Chris, I think people forget that the hull is just a small part of the process. The big advantage of 3D Cad is the ability to build the boat on the computer. I have found no one program does everything well or is easy to use. This has led me to use a number of packages over the years for different projects. To this end I find I judge programmes by such things as, file transfer, rather than just the drawing ability, which tends to be pretty generic in most cad applications. Other facilities like sectioning, areas, volumns, cg’s and exploding surfaces to lines are a must, even something like the snap commands can make the difference between good and not so good.
    The programmes I presently use
    Boat modelling maxsurf, general cad Xcad, designcad and rhino.

  15. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member


    I see the business of jumping-in on a computer design package as a prudent necessity. I don't see how getting involved in a software package has much of a downside attached.

    The lower priced packages are in the realm of what I would call, reasonably affordable and if you find that you are not specifically dialed-in to the rigors of learning the regimen or in being able to make the best use of the package, then you haven't taken much of a bath if you choose to get out at that point.

    The higher priced packages are so wonderfully specific to their application that there is virtually no risk involved as long as your effort and background justify the plunge into what is a much higher expense.

    I do feel, to some extent, that the old adage of, "you get what you pay for" is appropriate in these cases. It's just that most small boat design/build shops have to look at the cost effectiveness of such an outlay when compared to the needs of their client base.

    I, for one, will probably not be designing any 100+ foot fishing vessels or ferries, so all the features available in the higher priced group of software do not have much draw for me at this point. I do love to see how they do their stuff and do appreciate the features. I just can't put the cash together to cement the argument when paired with my current experience and future needs.

    Lastly, and this is coming from a lifetime commercial photographer, I have heard folks routinely say they will purchase a good software tool when the prices come down and new features are added. To that, I would advise: Get what software you can now, get up to speed and continue to stay connected as you move along your chosen career path. The time invested today will pay for itself along the road to your fully realized career potential. Later on, it will only be more painful, not less.

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