For External Building Aerodynamics with LBM/PWC, what CAD/3D Modelling package should I use?

A question posed to me recently, when discussing LBM/PWC, should we use Rhino as you recommend or use Solidworks, which I am used to?

Let’s list the reasons I recommend Rhino:

  1. It is one of the go-to 3D modelling tools in the AEC industry and has many learning and support resources specific also to the industry
  2. It handles many file types from the AEC industry, including DWG and Sketchup
  3. It can handle complex meshes, as well as be able to repair, modify and convert them if needed
  4. Mixed geometries can be easily handled and exported (particularly useful for topology in urban areas)
  5. It has a visual scripting tool called Grasshopper, which helps automate repetitive workflows when they come in from clients
  6. STL exports can be well controlled, making it the best for exporting in this file format that we recommend for External Building Aerodynamics for robustness reasons
  7. It is reasonable in price

It is important to note that this is Specific to External Building Aerodynamics, and our advice changes for other industries and applications.

Also, it is still possible if you want to use Solidworks for this industry/application. Of course, it’s just not our first recommendation. The reasons are:

  1. Its mainly used in product design and mechanical engineering applications, most material is based on that
  2. Its mainly a BREP tool, making meshes hard to handle, making topology preparation and importing challenging
  3. It is common for either a Rhino, SketchUp or Revit file to be sent by clients. Usually, all formats can be handled (including the more uncommon file types) using a combination of Revit and Rhino, the easiest path from some into Solidworks is via Rhino!

I hope this makes our recommendation clear, but remember, it’s only a recommendation, and you should weigh what is essential to your needs when trialling and purchasing.