Alias vs. Rhino

Besides price, what are the pluses and minuses of Alias vs. Rhino for product design. What are their differences in terms of:

  1. Ease of shape development (creating a 3D model)
  2. Can both programs create a format which can be easily used by engineering and manufacturing to meet production and assembly needs?
  3. Can both program files easily be converted for use by other programs such as Solidworks?

Thank you for your input.

One big difference (I understand that it is being addressed) is parent child constraints. Alias has a construction history and Rhino does not. If you tweek a curve the surface updates in Alias Studio. If you tweak a curve in Rhino you have to rebuild the surface. The interface looks much smater in Alias. Rhino looks so dorky like autocad. I guess that’s good if dorky=simple but …

I couldn’t disagree more. Keep in mind, rumor has it that Rhino started from the original Alias software developers. They left Alias to create Rhino, in short, learning from their errors and starting a new surface modeler from the ground up.

Alias does have an advantage on the raytracing abilities, but usually only advanced users make use of these capabilities. Reference my website for examples of Rhino’s raytracing.

Question 1:
Having used both, I picked up Rhino much faster than Alias. I have also trained individuals on Rhino and received similar comments.

Question 2:
Yes, both in my opinion are equal. Keep in mind that both of these programs are surface modelers, not solid modelers…they both share the same short-comings.

The ability to “easily” transfer data to engineering is more reflective of the user’s experience. For example, I’ve taken Rhino files directly to tooling which resulted in no manufacturing faults. I attribute this to experience (both my experience and the tooler), not software related.

Question number 3:
Rhino has a better file tesilator (spelling?) than Alias. Some design companies buy a seat of rhino just for this flexibility. Overall, transferring into ProE or Solidworks (which make up 2/3 of the engineering market) both Rhino and Alias are equal. Rhino has more flexibility when transferring to more uncommon engineering programs.


Overall this is my opinion:

  • Rhino is much easier to use and create designs at a excellent level.
  • Alias can take excellent to the next level, but only advanced users can capatalize on this.

BUT…here is my strong suggestion:
You pair up Rhino modeler with Brazil raytracer (I’m currently learning)…well, to be blunt…they make Alias look silly. You get much better renderings at a 1/3 of the price of the basic version of Alias.

Here is the link to Brazil’s gallery for those who doubt my suggestion:

You dont buy Alias for ray-tracing- you buy it for fast iterative work. As much as I dont like the way that d-engine has berated the Rhino interface, i agree with his assessment of history. It is the ability to quicky revise designs that gets you ahead in this market.

Re: the interface. "Dorky like Autocad’’ is not exactly a helpful crit. So what- it doesnt have bubble gum icons- many users are very pleased with the Rhino interface simply because it is easy to navigate. i think that they got it right because they made it work and work intuitively.

Alias is still the more powerful program. Whether it is better- that is up to your needs.

I learnt Rhino first before Alias.

When I learnt Rhino, I was simply taught how to use the buttons. When I learnt Alias, I was taught the fundamentals of NURBs modelling. I think it’s not about the software, but your foundation and understanding of NURBs modelling.

Interface wise:
Rhino has all the tools displayed and they are easy to find.
Rhino has an extensive snap tools, so it’s very easy to construct curves to the specification you want.
No differentiation between surfaces and curves… they all look the same in wireframe mode.

Alias has the quick marking menu, makes modelling a lot faster if you are used to it.
Alias differentiated surface from curves by the thickness of the borders. I am used to model in wireframe mode, so it helps a lot.
Alias’ tool buttons are hidden. Many times you got to be told where to find them. So in that aspect it’s not as user-friendly.

Modelling:
Rhino has many quick tools, but if you understand the fundamentals of NURBs, you don’t need them.
Rhino surfaces tend to have more isopalms, means more math.

Alias has some quick tools, but I can survive with only bi-rail to make just about any surface.
Alias tends to create cleaner surfaces, but that depends on how you model your surfaces.

Renderer:
Flamingo is extremely user friendly. It’s render for dummies.

You will take as long to render as to model. The renderer interface is … @#$%ing complicated. It offers more options than Flamingo, but takes way too much time to set up a scene as compared to Rhino. Also, I heard that Alias purposely dumb down their renderer because they want people to buy Maya to do the renderings.
Alias renderings looks better than Flamingo… a more realistic feel. Flamingo gives a more polished look.


I’m still considered a beginner, so you might have wasted your time reading this post.

When I learnt Rhino, I was simply taught how to use the buttons. When I learnt Alias, I was taught the fundamentals of NURBs modelling. I think it’s not about the software, but your foundation and understanding of NURBs modelling.

If you want to work efficiently in Rhino, don’t use buttons. I use the command line instead just like you would in AutoCAD.

In short, everyone has valid points.

The best determining factor is how much money you are prepared to invest and what software is familiar to your designers.

Investment factors favor Rhino. Much cheaper initial investment, no annual maintenance costs.

Alias invests into providing software and training for university design programs. So many designers out of school are more familiar with Alias, depending on your studio talent this can increase productivity.

Both programs are pretty much equal in capabilities/constraints in reference to your three questions.

In my opinion you should be considering cost verses productivity?

Thank you all for your input. It is much appreciated, and you had some very good and relevant comments.

Both Alias and Rhino are nurbs modelers which allows them to be used as design tools and not as engineering tools. This is great for an iterative development process with tons of flexibility. If you have a small budget learn Rhino and then save your money and upgrade to Alias. The concept is basically the same but with Alias you have more flexibility and the power to blow clients out of the water.