Orca 3D Marine Design Plug-In for Rhino3d

Orca 3D Marine Design Plug-In

Orca3D streamlines your design work with a suite of powerful applications that run within the Rhino3D environment. Conceptualise, model, and analyse, all without transferring files or learning a new program.

Building on Rhino's powerful 3D modeling capabilities, Orca3D provides marine-specific tools for hull design and fairing, hydrostatics & intact stability, and more. With the Orca3D plug-in, you can conceptualise, model, and analyse your design in a single environment, without the tedious and error-prone task of transferring your design from one program to another.

Orca3D is broken into modules which can be purchased as bundles:

Level 1: Hull Design plus Hydrostatics/Intact Stability
Level 2: Hull Design plus Hydrostatics/Intact Stability plus Speed/Power Analysis and Weight/Cost Tracking

Download an evaluation copy here 


Orca 3D Hull Design and Fairing

The design of a vessel in Orca3D begins with the hull model. Hull design is a unique combination of artistic expression and engineering analysis, combining to form a creative process to meet the aesthetic and performance requirements of the vessel.

The software that you use to transform the hull from an idea to a 3D computer model should enrich the creative process, with guidance provided by precise and detailed analyses. With Orca3D, you have complete freedom to create any type of hull, beginning with a concept and carrying through to final fairing, while ensuring that the hull meets your target hydrostatic properties.

In Orca3D, the hull is created as a NURBS surface. While Rhino provides many important surface creation and editing tools, Orca3D adds capabilities that are specific to hull design, such as:

  • Hull Assistants, for instantly creating hulls according to a range of input dimensional and shape parameters.
  •  Easy definition of the sections to be displayed on your hull surface; stations, buttocks, waterlines, and other planar curves. The user may specify the colour of these sections, together with the layers upon which they should be placed.
  • • Real-time update of the sections as the hull surface is modified
  • Real-time update of the hydrostatics as the hull surface is modified
  • Control over the shape of the forefoot of the hull, ensuring a curvature-continuous transition from the stem to the bottom
  • Easy positioning of the surface's control vertices, either interactively, or via Orca3D's vertex control dialog

Any type of hull and hull feature may be modeled. Hulls may be created as a single surface, or when appropriate, multiple surfaces. Tools like blending, trimming, and filleting provide tremendous capability and flexibility.

In addition to hull fairing tools, Orca3D provides a new tree control to help you to organize your model. It's another view into your layers, but with the addition of individual objects. This makes it easy to name objects, select them, change their properties, and drag them from one layer to another.

Another nice feature of the tree is the ability to quickly focus in on part of the model; simply right-click on a layer, sublayer, or object, and select "Set View Part." The rest of the model will then become hidden.


Orca 3D Weight & Cost Tracking

The success of any design hinges on its weight and centre of gravity. These parameters are fundamental to stability, speed, capacity to carry cargo (whether it be passengers, containers, or weapons), seakeeping performance, etc. Weight and CG tracking therefore must be a fundamental part of any design process.

Cost is another critical factor in the success of a design, and good engineering practice calls for cost considerations to be closely tied to the design process.

Orca3D's Weight/Cost Tracking module adds value to your Rhino model by assigning weight and cost parameters to the objects in the model, and summarizing and presenting the data.

For example, a surface that represents a portion of the hull can be assigned a weight per unit area, and as that surface is modified, the total weight and centre of gravity updates automatically. The cost parameter is broken down into material cost and labour cost, and can also be assigned on a per unit area basis. Similarly, curves can be assigned values on a per unit length basis, and solids can have either per unit area or per unit volume values. Also, curves, surfaces, and solids, as well as point objects, can be assigned an absolute value for weight and/or cost, that will not change as the object is modified.

To simplify the process of assigning weight and cost values to your objects, Orca3D includes the ability to create a library of stock materials, and you can assign a stock material to the objects in your model. For example, you might create "5 mm steel plate," with a unit weight per square meter, a material cost per square meter, and a labour/fabrication cost per square meter.


Orca 3D Hydrostatics & Intact Stability

The process of hull design is more than simply aesthetics; the hull must meet various other requirements, including overall dimensions, displacement, centre of buoyancy, and stability. Therefore, the process of hull design and the analysis of hydrostatics and stability must be closely linked. In Orca3D, the model for these tasks is one and the same; the hull is designed using one or more NURBS surfaces, and these same surfaces are used in the calculation of the hydrostatics and stability properties. In fact, they are so closely linked, that the hydrostatics can be updated in real time, as the hull surface is modified.

Calculation Types

Orca3D computes intact hydrostatics at one or more waterlines, or multiple displacement/centre of gravity combinations. In addition, at each of these conditions, the righting arm curve may be computed. Computed values include:

  • Overall and waterplane dimensions
  • Integrated values: volume, displacement, centre of buoyancy, wetted surface
  • Waterplane properties: waterplane area, centre of flotation
  • Maximum sectional area data
  • Hull form coefficients: block, prismatic, vertical prismatic, max section, waterplane, wetted surface
  • Stability parameters: transverse and longitudinal inertias and metacentric heights
  • Righting Arm Curve: righting arm and trim angle versus heel, height of any points of interest above the flotation plane

Vessel Types

Because Orca3D computes the hydrostatic properties based on the surface model, using first principles, there is really no limit to the type of vessel or object that it can analyse. Monohulls, multihulls, vessels with propeller or bow thruster tunnels...basically, anything that floats, or even sinks, can be analysed with Orca3D.


Graphical output consists of a planar surface inserted at the equilibrium flotation plane, with the LCB and LCF annotated.

Orca3D produces a report that includes tabular data at each flotation condition, as well as plots of appropriate parameters. The report is created and displayed using Microsoft Report Generator; the file may then be printed, or saved in Adobe Acrobat? (pdf) or Microsoft Excel? format.


Orca 3D Speed/Power Analysis

"How fast will it go?" The Orca3D Speed/Power Analysis module has two different prediction methods: the Savitsky method to predict the speed/power curve for chine hulls, and the Holtrop method to predict the speed/power for displacement hulls. We have integrated the HydroComp Drag Prediction Library, to ensure reliable, accurate results.

Most of the required input parameters are automatically computed from your model, although the user can input or override the values. Results are quickly generated and professionally formatted, and include checks to ensure the validity of the results. Any parameters that are outside of the ranges of the prediction method are flagged.

In addition to predicting the performance, the analysis gives insight into how to improve the performance, with a Drag Reduction Analysis. Four key parameter are evaluated, and recommendations given on adjustments to optimise your design; Planing Beam, Deadrise Angle, LCG location, and Shaft Angle.


Key Features

Orca3D Key Features

Orca3D makes designing any type of vessel a pleasure. All the tools you need are at your fingertips in a single intuitive environment. Instead of wasting countless hours moving your model from  one program to another, you can focus all your energy on the creative aspects of your design, so that all your working time is productive time.


Intuitive working environment

Orca3D runs as a plug-in to the Rhino program, so you don't need to learn another user interface and set of terminology. Is it an incredibly powerful 3D modeling system that includes true naval architectural tools, or a marine design program with amazing 3D modeling and rendering capabilities? Think of it either way, but the bottom line is that it will be easier to learn, more productive, and more fun!


Single program, without the need for file transfers

When you design process includes using multiple programs, an amazing amount of your day can be spent trying to accurately move your model from one program to another. This time is totally non-productive, and steals from the creative process. If you still need to import or export data, Rhino and Orca3D support a broad range of file formats, making the process as quick and painless as possible.


Easily cut stations, buttocks, waterlines, and other sections through your model

Orca3D adds the capability to Rhino to easily define a table of stations, buttocks, waterlines, cant frames, inclines, and diagonals, and immediately see the curves on the surface(s). Watch the curves update in real time as you modify a surface, or choose to update them manually, with a single button click, after you have made a series of changes to your model.


Intact Hydrostatics & Stability

In order to design a meaningful hull, you must be able to compute the intact hydrostatics, to ensure that you are meeting the basic requirements for displacement and LCB, as well as the less obvious, but still important, objectives for block coefficient, prismatic coefficient, initial stability, and many other parameters. With Orca3D, a single button click will compute and display a complete table of intact hydrostatics and stability information, with output to the screen, as well as optionally to other formats such as Microsoft Excel® and Adobe Acrobat®.  

Orca3D uses the surface model to compute hydrostatics, and can handle complex models with arbitrary shapes. There are no limits to the types of shapes that can be analyzed; monohulls, multihulls, submersibles, drilling rigs, etc.


Create hull surfaces quickly with Hull Assistants

Hull design in Orca3D is done using NURBS surfaces (see the Rhino Help file for a complete discussion of NURBS surfaces). Usually the most difficult step in designing a hull with NURBS is creating the initial 3D shape; after you have that, modifying and fairing the shape is straightforward. To speed up this process, Orca3D contains a number of Hull Assistants that allow you to specify a number of basic parameters, and instantly create a 3D NURBS surface, which can then be modified and faired to reach your final hull shape. As you modify the parameters, you can see the hull shape change in real time, as well as seeing the influence on basic hydrostatics properties.


Fair hulls easily and produce lines drawings

Create, modify, and fair hull surfaces with Orca3D. Orca3D takes the mathematical power of Rhino's NURBS surfaces, and adds the tools necessary to create your hull shape, while analyzing it for fairness and hydrostatic properties. See the effects of your modifications in real time, analyze curvature, tweak curvature, and finally, produce a lines plan drawing, all the while working in the familiar and intuitive Rhino environment.


Predict the speed of your vessel

Using analysis libraries from HydroComp, Inc. for either planing or displacement hulls, Orca3D can quickly predict the effective horsepower versus speed for your design. Guidance is given on modifying various parameters in your design to improve the performance.


Track the weight, center of gravity, and cost of your model

With Orca3D, you can assign weight and cost properties to every object in your model, and get a report summarizing the total weight, center of gravity, labor cost, and material cost. The property can be a specific value (e.g. 5 kg, $350, etc.) or a density function (e.g. 2.8 lb/ft^2, 32/m^2, etc.). A library of standard materials can be created, and properties assigned simply by selecting an item from the library.


Technical Details

Technical Details / System Requirements:

General system requirements for Orca are going to be the same as Rhino3d itself, so for general notes on that please see this page:

Rhino3d & Orca System Requirements


Other notes specific to Orca:

There are both 32 & 64bit versions of Orca for Rhino, 32bit versions of all plug-ins will be phased out over time but a small number still need access as they are running on older 32bit Operating Systems.

Operating Systems tested: Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8

Mac: The Intel Mac with Bootcamp has not been officially tested by the developer of Ora3d but customers of Simply Rhino have Orca installed this way & they report all working well even with other plug-ins installed such as V-Ray for Rhino

Currently Orca3d does not support Rhino for Mac

VMware and Parallels (solutions for running Windows applications on a Mac): As with Rhino are not supported


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  • Last modified on Sunday, 09 August 2015 10:42
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