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T-Splines replacement?

Postby Ross McCoy » February 6th, 2017, 11:57 am

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I was looking to pick up a license of T-Splines for Rhino and come to find out Autodesk stopped selling licenses late last year and will no longer be developing the plugin for Rhino. Instead they are integrating it into Autodesk Fusion 360 and it'll only be available there from now on.

I've never used Fusion 360, but would it be worth learning instead of picking Rhino back up?

I'm basically wanting to be able to model organic sculptural forms for some furniture designs that can be transferred over to a manufacturer-able surface. This will be mainly for personal use so I'm not wanting to drop a ton of money on software for now. Are there other software options I should consider instead? I'm most familiar with sub-d modeling since I come from a 3ds max background.

Here's my wish list of stuff to be able to do:
- Model furniture/home products (organic and hardsufaces)
- Render in program or export to Keyshot
- Produce a qaulity 3d model that can be either 3d printed, cnc'ed, etc...
- Be able to create patterns if I need to unfold something
- Not super expensive
- Be relevant to ID firms for a skill set

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby Cyberdemon » February 6th, 2017, 12:18 pm

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Fusion can do a lot of that. Unfolding is the only piece that doesn't exist right now. But you could export geometry to Rhino and use that (assuming the geometry can be flattened).

I don't know how relevant Fusion 360 is in the industry, but obviously they are making a big push to improve that tool. The usual solid/surface modelers are still more prevalent in the industry (Rhino, Alias, Creo, Solidworks, etc)

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby Mrog » February 6th, 2017, 5:47 pm


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Maya can translate polygon meshes into nurbs with one click. Then you can bring it to Rhino and do whatever you want to it. Not a full blown T-Splines workflow but in 90% of the cases absolutely enough (plus you can use the much better Maya sub-d modelling tools). If you need to do it for free you can do the same trick with fusion360 and use it just as an exporter to bring your sub-d files to rhino. Then you can use any sub-d software of your liking.

There is a lot of hype around fusion right now but I am not really buying into it. Persoanlly I have NEVER seen it being used in a professional environment. And honestly... if I had my own design firm it would be the last software for me to choose because if I have big clients I really don't want to upload all my sensitive data to their cloud bullshit. Seriously, who in their right mind would consider giving Autodesk all your client data, just like that?? When I last tried it, it didn't even allow me to open a locally stored file unless I put it on their servers - that is insane. I wouldn't bother learning it unless the industry actually starts adopting it.

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby cadjunkie » February 10th, 2017, 1:10 am


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@Ross: Take a look at Mesh Fusion over there with Modo. If you already have Rhino then I find Modo brings to the table all that T-Splines does and then some. And yes I make things that can be manufactured from it. Maybe this is just my approach but this kind of old skool approach to having to build models into being is kind of counter. SubD for creating organics is much more intuitive than wire frame. And especially now that dynamic systems are becoming easier to use why not let or at least start from that point.

Image just dropping a soft leather cushion and it deforms they way it should. At least its a starting point to then sculpt in any additional details.

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby Sean_Kelly_1 » March 6th, 2017, 9:03 am


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I found myself in a similar situation over Christmas. I've found Solidworks isn't ideal for creating organic shapes so I tried Rhino with T-Spline and found is really good piece of software. The issue being the price for both packages and a friend of mine recommended Fusion 360. Frankly, since using it I haven't looked back.

T-Splines was originally designed by Autodesk, with Fusion being an Autodesk product. They allow anyone earning under $100,000 annually to use it for free for a year. http://kelly3d.com/wp/ Please see for yourself what I've been making with it. The program makes CAD modelling enjoyable, unlike obnoxious, disgustingly overpriced Solidworks that couldn't even shell an organic shape made in Rhino.


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Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby cadjunkie » March 7th, 2017, 8:49 pm


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[quote="Sean_Kelly_1"]I found myself in a similar situation over Christmas. I've found Solidworks isn't ideal for creating organic shapes so I tried Rhino with T-Spline and found is really good piece of software. The issue being the price for both packages and a friend of mine recommended Fusion 360. Frankly, since using it I haven't looked back.

T-Splines was originally designed by Autodesk, with Fusion being an Autodesk product. They allow anyone earning under $100,000 annually to use it for free for a year. http://kelly3d.com/wp/ Please see for yourself what I've been making with it. The program makes CAD modelling enjoyable, unlike obnoxious, disgustingly overpriced Solidworks that couldn't even shell an organic shape made in Rhino.


@Sean: T-Splines was originally a stand alone product NOT design or made by Autodesk. It was originally a plug in for Rhino only then went to Solidworks with Ts-Elements. When Autodesk bought out the T-Splines team they then over the years still "supported" the Rhino plug in but then over time, as Auto Desk does, fazes out any support for outside plug-ins.

To be fair just because you made a shape in Rhino and SW can't shell it that's not a fault of SW. You'd definitely have to show a model first before really being able to say that. I'm not saying SW is perfect but I know that Rhino also lets you make things that can't manufacturer because it doesn't care about constraints. Again not knocking Rhino or SW as much as it is also about the user knowing the software. When using the SW shell command you've got to have an understanding of how it's going to be made because I've seen Catia and Pro/E choke on the same shelling issues as a SW model. All it means is that you have to build the outer or inner wall yourself with an offset surface and using the cutting tools to get what you want.

You say SW is over priced and for $4k maybe it is for you, but you can't say that Fusion 360 and OnShape aren't direct clones of SW which is a spin off from Pro/E and the likes of Catia and NX. Also don't forget about Inventor or even Solidedge. I do think it's funny how ppl complain about price point but coming from the freelance world or even coproate and you want $5k for a project or $5ok a year and the person said "well you're not worth that" You'd not feel so good. I'm not defending SW or any of these programs but you can't say they are over priced if your are really serious about your work....shit ain't free out here....people gotta eat just like you.

And if you think the price you pay for Fusion 360 isn't being subsidized by the rest of Autodesk products that you are fooling yourself. Sure it's price is appealing for the level of functionality. But know your history when it comes to Autodesk and their business practices. When they put out AutoCad initially it was free for YEARS!!!! And then Autodesk said hey now that your whole company is using AutoCad we are now going to start charging you thousand of $$$ if you want to continue moving forward with it. Not saying that history won't repeat itself just know that not too long ago you could but Maya, Max, etc as a license to own which they then pretty much forced everyone into the subscription model.

Or that after 15 or so years just cutting off Softimage XSI after numerous companies had it as part of their entire workflow. So no AD isn't this beaming light of hope that is going to save the world for cheap...

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby MK19 » March 8th, 2017, 3:29 am


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I'm with Cadjunkie on this one. I am 100% absolutely certain that Autodesk will come in with the fee hammer when (if?) it gains sufficient traction in industry. They could kill Inventor off with it even.
They will 100% be asking for over £1k a year for Fusion 360 one day, but that is impossible given their current market share. Enjoy it while it's free and cheap - it won't be forever.
As far as I am aware a lot of people plan to stick with Rhino 5 and whatever the last tsplines version will be.

Alternatively look at buying a Power Surfacing license for SolidWorks for about $1,000.

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby Sean_Kelly_1 » March 8th, 2017, 8:24 am


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MK19 wrote:I'm with Cadjunkie on this one. I am 100% absolutely certain that Autodesk will come in with the fee hammer when (if?) it gains sufficient traction in industry. They could kill Inventor off with it even.
They will 100% be asking for over £1k a year for Fusion 360 one day, but that is impossible given their current market share. Enjoy it while it's free and cheap - it won't be forever.
As far as I am aware a lot of people plan to stick with Rhino 5 and whatever the last tsplines version will be.

Alternatively look at buying a Power Surfacing license for SolidWorks for about $1,000.


I've no doubt they will increase the price in a few years time, right now they are promoting it. The thing is, it works so well. You can actually delete surfaces on a CAD mesh and it can figure out if you wish to delete an excess over extrusion or decrease the complexity of an existing surface. In Solidworks you can't that, you have to extrude up to surface and hope it works and if a created surface has deformities in it you wish to remove it's usually quicker to start from scratch. Plus, in Solidworks if you make one adjustment you usually have to go back about a dozen steps to fixed other changes, usually minor things like relations in the sketch.

How do you find Power Surfacing? I feel Fusion is in post Beta and they are using feedback from users to figure out how to make it a better program.

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby Mr-914 » March 9th, 2017, 7:53 am

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MK19 wrote:I'm with Cadjunkie on this one. I am 100% absolutely certain that Autodesk will come in with the fee hammer when (if?) it gains sufficient traction in industry. They could kill Inventor off with it even.
They will 100% be asking for over £1k a year for Fusion 360 one day, but that is impossible given their current market share. Enjoy it while it's free and cheap - it won't be forever.
As far as I am aware a lot of people plan to stick with Rhino 5 and whatever the last tsplines version will be.

Alternatively look at buying a Power Surfacing license for SolidWorks for about $1,000.


I don't know if Autodesk is going to come in with the fee hammer. Their management seems to want to bridge the maker-corporate client divide. I read that the CEO is really into sculpture and carpentry and wants to support hobbiests. It kinda fits with the Innovator's Dilemma too. 3D is bound to become cheaper and cheaper so the 3D software companies need to get ahead of this by adopting a low cost strategy.

Lastly, I'm pretty sure students will be the first to adopt Fusion. In five years, when there are 100,000 Fusion experts on the market with no SW or Rhino experience, companies will start buying a couple of seats.
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Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby Cyberdemon » March 9th, 2017, 8:51 am

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People will always want to make money where they can, with that said, the whole world (not just software) has been transitioning to the subscription model over the past decade. In general, that means much lower costs in the long run, especially when you factor what it used to cost for a permanent seat of something, followed by bi-annual upgrades. I remember the old days of "Oh you saved that in CS3? Could you save a CS2 file for me?"

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby cadjunkie » March 9th, 2017, 4:52 pm


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Mr-914 wrote:
MK19 wrote:I'm with Cadjunkie on this one. I am 100% absolutely certain that Autodesk will come in with the fee hammer when (if?) it gains sufficient traction in industry. They could kill Inventor off with it even.
They will 100% be asking for over £1k a year for Fusion 360 one day, but that is impossible given their current market share. Enjoy it while it's free and cheap - it won't be forever.
As far as I am aware a lot of people plan to stick with Rhino 5 and whatever the last tsplines version will be.

Alternatively look at buying a Power Surfacing license for SolidWorks for about $1,000.


I don't know if Autodesk is going to come in with the fee hammer. Their management seems to want to bridge the maker-corporate client divide. I read that the CEO is really into sculpture and carpentry and wants to support hobbiests. It kinda fits with the Innovator's Dilemma too. 3D is bound to become cheaper and cheaper so the 3D software companies need to get ahead of this by adopting a low cost strategy.

Lastly, I'm pretty sure students will be the first to adopt Fusion. In five years, when there are 100,000 Fusion experts on the market with no SW or Rhino experience, companies will start buying a couple of seats.



Yea, Fusion taking over, that's not going to happen for a whole host of reasons. All autodesk products for students have been free, so by that notion Alias or Inventor should be #1 all over the world and that's just not the case. Though within the Auto Industry Alias really is one of the heavier hitters, it's not the only one. Also if the level of functionality keep rising it will supplant Inventor which has it's only middle of the ground engineering market share and they definitely aren't going to give up the small amount charged for Fusion 360 SAAS over what Inventor cost (which is the same as Solidworks and SolidEdge). Fusion doesn't have Grasshopper, though there is Dynamo, but that is not a seamless integration.

But here is an aside for you that is from first hand experience. Student comes into a company saying I know software "X". If you buy it for me then I will be able to do my job. The may or may not start to run up the food chain of command depending on the level of red tape, IT people, types of computers, etc etc etc. This same company also has a certain way of doing things and said students has no clue about this companies current process. So the price of the requested software is potentially considered but wait....oh no, it's not in this years budget. I've got more stories like this than I can even remember.

I'm not trying to tell you not to like whatever software you like there's just this real world component to things that far out strips it. By some of the things that you've written I'd say this....Blender is an AMAZING piece of software, it's free yet it is not an "industry standard" anywhere. Why? It can most certainly run circles around Sketch Up, or in some cases compete with the likes of Maya, C4d, 3D Max. You have to ask yourself why a software that is free and opensource hasn't become #1?

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby slippyfish » March 9th, 2017, 6:06 pm

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My group at work has been attempting to make a concerted effort to at least learn some Fusion 360. For all the disdain that people could level at Autodesk, I get the sense that they are trying hard - meaning, resources, people, programmers, money - to make a SolidWorks killer. I heard something like 1/4 of the people at Autodesk are working on Fusion, that's how big of a deal it is.
The subscription model, well it keeps things relatively inexpensive, and lowers barriers to entry which can later be raised. We've had some issues with the online portion not working, and you can't get your models. That's a broken experience. Autodesk runs on AWS so I imagine last week's outage could have affected many designers, engineers, and architects using their cloud-based products.
Modeling-wise I think it would solve the OP's tasks quite well, once you learn enough about how to use it. The interface is really nice and it seems robust and stable.
I'm just so so sick of using SolidWorks for industrial design surfacing, that any viable new program that can do organic surfaces better/quicker and can talk to the engineers will get a look. We use Rhino for some things too, but again I'm more impressed by Fusion as a "fresh start" or way things will be in ten years.
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Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby MK19 » March 9th, 2017, 6:12 pm


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Mr-914 wrote:3D is bound to become cheaper and cheaper so the 3D software companies need to get ahead of this by adopting a low cost strategy.

Well, I don't know what to say here. I want to believe this is the case but it really hasn't happened yet, as cadjunkie explains with the Blender example above. Who knows when it will.
Even if you look at 2-D CAD there are a number of free or very cheap alternatives which are equivalent to AutoCAD, yet AutoCAD is still industry standard. Gimp and Krita are as good as Photoshop and yet Photoshop is industry standard, Inkscape vs Illustrator, etc, etc.
Fusion 360 will probably hurt Rhino for organic modellers than it will effect major CAD for a good few years yet.

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby cadjunkie » March 9th, 2017, 10:22 pm


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I've pointed this out in other places but I keep telling people that pound for pound you can look at multiple platforms Fusion, Key Shot, Rhino, or Solidworks, nPower Surfacing, Keyshot but Modo by itself is just a better solution if organic modeling is what you're wanting to achieve.

Having "dynamics" as part of the mix of design bring something to the table that most ppl are thinking about. Imagine having to fill a gumball machine so that it looks like it is naturally filled with...yea gum balls. You'd have to "model" that is Fusion, SW, Rhino...etc. Or got a soft fabric WHY....please tell me WHY model it rather than let the physics engine create it. And this isn't limited to Modo only it's a different way of thinking with the software. Using Dynamics as part of the process is really an evolution in the industrial design side of software. Sure in SW, Pro/E, NX, and IV and the likes you get assemblies and you can test for moving parts but that's not the sames as physical dynamics as part of the process.

Re: T-Splines replacement?

Postby Mr-914 » March 10th, 2017, 7:53 am

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MK19 wrote:
Mr-914 wrote:3D is bound to become cheaper and cheaper so the 3D software companies need to get ahead of this by adopting a low cost strategy.

Well, I don't know what to say here. I want to believe this is the case but it really hasn't happened yet, as cadjunkie explains with the Blender example above. Who knows when it will.
Even if you look at 2-D CAD there are a number of free or very cheap alternatives which are equivalent to AutoCAD, yet AutoCAD is still industry standard. Gimp and Krita are as good as Photoshop and yet Photoshop is industry standard, Inkscape vs Illustrator, etc, etc.
Fusion 360 will probably hurt Rhino for organic modellers than it will effect major CAD for a good few years yet.


It's bound to get cheaper, because it already has. When I was in uni (2000), it was right at the end of the time you needed to buy a Silicon Graphics terminal to run Alias ($30k+). Now, you can get Alias Design for $3k / year.

As for students and software, it does happen that they are a catalyst for change. There is a transportation company that was using only Rhino, but one of their new hires from CCS showed them Alias on his laptop a few times. They were impressed and I believe they bought a license to try it out.

Closer to home, my first job was using an old license of Inventor. We switched to SolidWorks within 6 months of me starting!
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