Best Software for Modeling an Historic Wooden Ship?

Discussion in 'Software' started by MagneticNorth, May 5, 2012.

  1. MagneticNorth
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    MagneticNorth New Member

    Hello,

    I am interested in constructing a virtual 3D model of an intact wooden historic ship. Specifically, I am looking for a program that will let me model its individual parts, put them together and take them apart. The model will be focused entirely on the hull, other than the placement of the masts, the rig does not fit the scope of my investigation.

    Hydrostatics and performance are completely unnecessary for my project, I simply need to create an accurate and manipulable model from measurements taken off of the actual intact hull.

    I have looked into Rhino, AutoCAD, and SolidWorks and have found each to have pros and cons for this project. In your professional opinion, which program would likely be best for my needs?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    I'm not familar with SolidWorks. Rhino has considerably better capabilities for modeling arbitrarially shaped 3d geometry than AutoCad.

    My understanding is the Maritime Studies program East Carolina University uses Rhino in their Ship Reconstruction course.

    Are you associated with the nautical archeology program at Texas A&M?
     
  3. mtht110
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    mtht110 T. Hoque

    In my experience Rhino is better than AutoCad.
     
  4. MagneticNorth
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    MagneticNorth New Member

    DCockey - I am a PhD student in the Nautical Archaeology Program at A&M, and we are taught Rhino is sort of the "industry standard". Most of the time, however, it gets used to loft lines or represent the general shape of hulls, rather than model constituent parts (at least in my experience).

    mtht110 - I am quickly learning that AutoCAD doesn't get much love from boat nerds. I had originally thought that the more technical aspects of AutoCAD might be better for my project (over Rhino), but the more I learn about the limitations of AutoCAD the less I am considering it. I like the idea of SolidWorks because it does such a great job of solid modeling.

    I think that either Rhino or SolidWorks will be able to do what I need, I am just getting a feel for what boat modeling experts prefer and why. I appreciate the feedback.
     
  5. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    My experience is that when you are free to create a model, Rhino far exceeds AutoCAD; Rhino is similar to many other programs but it is much cheaper. But if you have to copy EXACTLY an existing boat, AutoCAD is going to allow you it with less effort than Rhino.
    But you are going to get opinions in all types and colors.
     
  6. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    AutoCad started as a 2D computerized drafting, and still shows that legacy. It's the standard for creating 2D drawings in many industries, particularly architecture and building construction. AutoDesk is the parent company of AutoCad and a few years ago they bought Alias which is a 3D modeler used in several industries. The capabilities of Alias and Rhino are very similar though Alias is considerably more expensive than Rhino. The low cost version of Alias lacks some of the capabilities of Rhino though for most boat related purposes is probably very adequate.

    As I said above I'm not really familar with SolidWorks. My understanding is it uses primarialy solid modeler vs surface modeler paradigms, and the primary use is the design of mechanical parts. At first glance this would seem to make it better to be better for modeling solid objects. If it's a mechanical engineering type object which is a combination of geometric features such as extrusions, holes, slots, chamfers, fillets, tapers, etc than that is probably correct. But for objects with arbitrary and complex surface shapes which are common in boat and ship hulls then the surface modeling paradigms are generally more efficient. A surface can be represented by a set of surfaces. Rhino includes various "Boolean" operations such as Union and Difference which provide essentially the same capabilities as a solid modeler.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  7. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Could you provide more information on why you find using AutoCad to exactly copy an exisiting boat easier than Rhino? What type of boat? What information do you start with? What is the output?
     
  8. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    Any type of boat, mono, cat, floating dock, barge, open bottom dreggers, even a box 40m x 40m x 16m in concrete. I have had to proyect several ships that were to be build from an existing mold. Starting with a table of ofsets I draw frames in AutoCAD and then passed them to Rhino to get surfaces. For my 4 or 5 last projects I have used surfaces created with AutoCAd 2012, exporting them as iges files to MaxSurf. I have left Rhino.
    Later today I´ll prepare and show you a set of models created with AutoCAD.
     
  9. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    See attached a file with some of the models, created with AutoCAD, I used to carry out some of those studies that a NA is forced to make in his tremendous career. I know they are not as nice as those obtained with Rhino, but what I have always needed is a very good and reliable model that would allow me to perform calculations. For example, with my model in AutoCD I can calculate the metacentric evolute of a ship. I am not speaking of the false metacentre as we normally use, but the real metacentre at every heel of the boat. This and many other things are achieved with AutoCAD objects but not with the Rhino´s.
    But this is precisely what the creator of this discussion is not interested at all.
    Well, greetings to all
     

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    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  10. RThompson
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    RThompson Senior Member

    I have used Autocad and Rhino a fair bit, and I’v also had a bit of a crack at Solidworks and Catia (its big brother).

    ACad and Rhino use fundamentally different methodologies from Solidworks in that they are basically ‘electronic pencils’, the models are not smart. That is to say in order to change the dimensions of something you have drawn you erase it and draw it again. For example to draw a square: you draw a square at the dimensions you want it, to change its dimensions you erase it and draw it again at different dimensions the same as you would drawing with a pencil on paper.

    Solidworks is a ‘parametric’ modeller, so the objects you draw are controlled by parameters/relationships. In the example of drawing a square: you draw a rectangular shape of arbitrary dimensions, then apply the side lengths to it to make it the size you want. If you subsequently want to change its dimensions you edit its dimension parameters (and the size of the square will automatically update). Furthermore you can make the magnitude of the dimension dependent on some other thing (say, a formula or the size of another object). Then if the formula or other object are altered then the square will change to. IE you can build intelligent relationships into the model.
    Also, the print drawings from Solidworks are ‘smart’ –so when the model changes the print drawing update as well.

    Thus design changes on complex models can be faster with Solidworks. However, the added ‘smarts’ of Solidworks comes at a cost of overheads; (I expect) in terms of computer power and also how much time is spent in building the model. Although I must say that I am no expert on either Catia or Solidworks.

    Now, with respect to expertise Rhino is the odd one out. That is to say ACad and Solidworks are very good at doing typical mechanical shapes (ie objects with straight lines and/or radiuses). They are also very good at producing printed drawings. That’s not to say they cannot do arbitrary or ‘organic’ shapes, its just not their expertise (I think Solidworks requires a plugin to do arbitrary surfaces –Surfaceworks).
    Rhino on the other hand is particularly good at producing and editing arbitrary shapes, and not so good at producing printed drawings. Indeed, the development of Rhino has focused on being able to easily produce, edit, and import/export 3d surfaces and data, scant resource has been put into ‘drafting’ tools.

    My workflow has typically been to build a 3d model in Rhino and then draft and export it to Acad for paper drawings if required, or export direct to manufacturing without paper drawings.

    Another consideration is what your personal skills are –do you already know Acad etc? If you have no CAD experience I suggest Rhino as the most intuitive/easiest to learn.

    Purchase cost is a consideration as well –Rhino is a fraction of the cost of ACad or Solidworks. Incidentally, David, I understand Catia and Solidworks are owned by Dassault Systemes which is in competition with Autodesk. In the spirit of competition Dassault have produced a AutoCad clone and made it freely available (Draftsight). It is very similar in all ways to ACad –a direct challenge if you will. I have it, and use it when needed, which saved me $1000’s in purchase of ACad.

    Certainly for me Rhino is the go-to tool for most CAD work, and is also something of an industry standard.

    PS- what I say above is just my opinion based on my experience, there are many people doing spectacular things with ACad (and solidworks as well).

    :)
     
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  11. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    I fully agree with all that RThompson says, and I think he has very objectively explained the situation. I just want to clarify that since the 2010 version, if I remember correctly, AutoCAD allows the creation of "parametric" objects. Their contours can be associated with some dimensions that, when changed, change the shape of the object.
    In my opinion, AutoCAD is making rapid progress with the creation of 3D objects but, in this aspect, it still has some way to go compared to other systems
     
  12. ldigas
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    ldigas Senior Member

    @RThompson - Yes, Autodesk and Dassault systemes are direct competitors, and it would've been widely heard have one acquired the other. Here is a small source of what is their "worth" in the CAD world, just so one can get a general idea of the value of that market. http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog/2012/02/autodesk-makes-it-official-theyre-2.html

    Autodesk has not recently acquired CATIA, nor do I believe it will, in the foreseeable future - CATIA being Dassault's flagship product on whose engine development some of its other products depend.

    That being said, Autodesk has recently acquired the maker of T-Splines (whose name escapes me now), a very popular plugin for Rhinoceros, and that purchase has stirred some waters, so maybe that was the acquisition DCockey was referring to. Only he got the names mixed, but that happens to everyone.

    To follow up on your post, CAD software is usually divided by two main criteria: whether it is 2D or 3D, and whether it represents its model as an explicit or as a parametric model.

    AutoCAD - mainly for 2D with explicit representation ... some 3D with some parametric support
    Rhinoceros - 3D with explicit representation - with aid of plugins a certain level of parametric support can be accomplished
    SolidWorls - full parametric representation
    CATIA - full parametric representation (CATIA however, handles large assemblies much(!) better than any of above, including SolidWorks).

    Rhinoceros has been mentioned as "an odd child". That is partly true - and it is such by design! Robert (Bob) McNeel has started in Autocad's customer support, and from there moved to found his own firm. One of his client groups were naval architects, and Rhinoceros was from the start developed with them in mind, amongst others. Therefore, maybe, its popularity amongst "us" ;)

    McNeel also said once in some interview that it is their strategy not to try to compete with products that already have established themselves, but to try to make a product that will fill the gaps feature-wise, that others lack. And, knock on wood - I wish them luck, they have succeded in that. Rhino truly is a hard to match product considering the price and its ease of use.

    http://blog.novedge.com/2007/03/an_interview_wi_3.html

    Oh, I forgot to mention - Autocad since version 2013, has added some nice 3D features, including a much better spline editing and NURBS support. It is late here, so I'll just recommend for those interested, to visit Autodesk's main page and check on "what's new in 2013". Interesting read for those interested in Autocad's development. However, it is still quite far from a "full NURBS support" feature set, such as Rhino's.
     
  13. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Alias, not Catia is the product I meant. I corrected my earlier post. AutoDesk acquired Alias several years ago, and Alisa is more a direct competitor to Rhino than Catia. I had not heard about AutoDesk's purchase of T-Splines but my guess is they will offer the T-Splines capability in Alias.

    NX (formerly Unigraphics) is another major player in the 3D CAD arena which provides both arbitrary surface capabilities and parametrics. It is a direct competitor of Catia. The automotive world is largely between NX and Catia.

    Rhino has a history feature which is different than parametrics but does link geometry to the geometry it is based on for certain commands. For instance if Record History is used with the Loft command the resulting surface and subsequently one of the curves used by Loft is modified, the lofted surface will alter to continue to match the curve. Then there is Grasshopper which Rhino is currently developing and which is explicitly parametric.

    My experience with parametrics is that the time required to set up the parametric relationships and the overhead is worthwhile if a series of configurations will be designed with the same relationships between features, and for simple, fixed relationships between features. But parametrics is less useful when the "design intent" is subject to modification.
     

  14. smartbight
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    smartbight Naval Architect

    We have seen beautiful posted 'historic' work that were modeled in Freeship/Delftship.

    Not as many 'tools' as AC or SW but modeling in FS/DS is not bad, once you get the hang of it.
     

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