3b. Ribs – Panelling Tool

1. In Rhino, create a rectangular model boundary for the surface, and then create a surface within.

2. Rebuild the flat surface (Surface Tools — Rebuild Surface), set point counts as 3 for both u and v directions. Degree is set to be 3 for both u and v directions.


With only 3 point counts in both directions, it generates a simple geometry which makes the paneling fabrication much easier.

Odd degrees are usually preferred when dealing with curves or curvy surfaces.

3. Press F10 to turn on the control points, alter the geometry of the surface by dragging the control points to desired position. When it is done, press F11 to turn off the control points.

4. With the plug-in “Paneling Tools” installed, select from the tab “Paneling Tools — Create Paneling Grid — Surface Domain” , then select the surface which created earlier on. Press Enter.

5. Adjust the setting for the paneling grid as follows. Save the paneling grid in a separated layer.

Resultant grid should look like the following.

6. With the paneling grid selected, proceed as “Paneling Tools — Paneling from Grid — Panel 2D Grid”. Select the surface as base surface for paneling.

7. Adjust the settings as following:

8. Save the panels under a separated layer. Join the edges to form polylines.

9. Repeat the procedure to generate a network of polylines in both u and v directions. Then save them under a separated layer.

10. Turn off all the layer, but turn on the first surface, offset it through a distance of 20 units to generate a second surface. Click on the “Loose” option. Check the offset direction.

11. Save the second surface under a separated layer. Turn on control points for both surfaces. It is obvious that both surfaces have the same number of control points.

12. Hide the first layer, repeat step 4 to 9 to generate a second set of paneling grid, panels and network of polylines joined from the edges of the panels.

13. With only the layers of panels grids, and joined panel edge lines on, by lofting the correponding polylines, ribs in both directions can be generated.

14. Create nodges for both sets of ribs. The diameter of the cylinder is determined by the thickness of the model material.

15. Unroll the panel faces, “Paneling Tools — Paneling Utility — Unroll Faces”, then click on one strip of faces. They will be flattened on the construction plane, located at the zero origin. Repeat the process until all the faces are unrolled. Arrange them in an orderly manner.

16. Unroll the ribs. “Surface — Unroll Developable Srf” then click on individual ribs.

17. Send the panels and ribs for lazer engraver. Assemble to form the desired model.

Feedback from the author:

Material for the panel faces needs to be thin, so that when the faces are folded, the accumulated error is minimized.

Simple geometry is encouraged. Double curvature of the surface requires the panel face strips to be bent in both directions. However, the laser engraver can only cut one side of the model material.

This method uses offsetting surface in order to generate the ribs, instead extruding the existing polylines joined by the panel face edges. One of the advantages is that the ribs are joined tightly as the nodges