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Jul 26, 2003, 10:52 AM
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Tutorial: How to build a wing in Rhino3D

1st step:

Set up your grid to reflect inches. Start with a new file using the Rhino inches template, then edit the grid options as shown below. This gives you a major line every inch, minor lines every 1/16" and snap spacing every 1/32" to correspond with the commonly-used balsa sheet thicknesses.

Once you set this up, SAVE this out as a template, so you never have to do it again. I called mine "balsa-inches."
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Jul 26, 2003, 10:57 AM
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Step 2:

Now import (or draw) your airfoil curve. I usually draw mine, but for scale or other reasons you may wish to import yours from another program. You can import DXF, DWG, AI, and a host of other formats. Note: if you import your curve, it may be broken in places, and will not produce a valid solid when extruded. I would simply import my curve, lock it, then draw a new curve over it, being sure to close the curve off by ending where you started.

Here's an airfoil curve with control points turned on:

you can see because of my grid that this wing has a chord of around 3.5". once you draw your curve, resize it untill it meets your dimensions.
Jul 26, 2003, 11:05 AM
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Step 3:

For complexity's sake, rather than do a simple straight wing (like a piper cub) I'm going to do a slightly tapered wing with a little bit of built-in washout.

Copy your airfoli curve, paste it, and rescale/position it. I've scaled it down to resemble the wing at the tip, and rotated it a little bit for the washout as shown:

Now in the Top view, move the new airfoil curve away from the root airfoil curve until you have approxamately half of your desired wingspan (minus the rounded wingtip)

Jul 26, 2003, 11:09 AM
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Step 4:

Now loft the two curves together:

The simple, clean shape is a result of drawing this curve with as few points as needed. Now we have a tube that we can use as a guide to form the ribs and other wing parts.
Jul 26, 2003, 11:16 AM
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Step 5:

Now go to the Top view and draw curves where you want your ribs to be. In this example, I have a line every 2 inches:

You want these curves to extend past your wing on both sides.
I also positioned them underneath the wing.
Jul 26, 2003, 11:18 AM
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Step 6:

Extrude these curves upward thru the wing surface:

The new surfaces should extend beyond the wing tube in every direction.
Jul 26, 2003, 11:23 AM
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Step 7:

Select each of these surfaces, and the wing tube, and do a
MENU>Curve>From Objects>Intersection
to achieve the following results:

See that we now have an edge curve for every rib, spaced out evenly and steadily changing in size and position to form the wing.
Jul 26, 2003, 11:33 AM
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Step 8:

Delete the vertical surfaces and the lines you made... we don't need them anymore.

Hide the wing tube.

Now select all of the rib outlines (including the tip and the root)

Extrude with the both and cap options (hit the b and c keys and hit enter after you click the extrude button). Zoom in while you do this, and using the grid snap, extrude 1/32" to the side. Since you're using the "both" option, the solid will go 1/32" both ways, so that your original rib curve lies in the center of your new rib. You can do these all at once for rapid results.

Jul 26, 2003, 11:39 AM
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To be continued...
Last edited by cathode; Jul 26, 2003 at 11:51 PM.
Jul 27, 2003, 10:33 AM
jstevens's Avatar

great Idea

thanks for posting this. I have been using autocad for quite some time now and have just started toying around with rhino.I will be following step by step. thanks cathode
Jul 28, 2003, 09:45 AM
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Step 9:

Now we want to build the main and secondary spar.
Unhide the wing tube, and i nthe Top view, draw two straight lines where you want the spar to be:

And extrude them up thru the wing tube (I used the b switch again):

Jul 28, 2003, 09:48 AM
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Step 10:

Select the wing tube, and the 2 surfaces we made in step 9, and MENU>Curve>From Objects>Intersection to get this result: (you can delete the surfaces and the lines you used to do this)

Last edited by cathode; Jul 28, 2003 at 09:55 AM.
Jul 28, 2003, 09:54 AM
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Step 11:

Select the 4 curves (lines) you just mande, then
"Hide inverse" to hide everything else:

Using end snap, finish the curves off like so, then select all and join.

Then select each curve (now a closed rectangle) and extrude, using the B anc C switches to extrude both ways, and cap off the results:

Last edited by cathode; Jul 28, 2003 at 09:57 AM.
Jul 28, 2003, 09:59 AM
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Step 12:

If you unhide everything, and then hide the wing tube, you should see something like this with a quick preview:

Now I'm going to make the wingtip, so in the top view with the end snap turned off, I'm going to draw this shape, join it together, and in the the right or front view, move it up so that it's around the middle of my last wing rib:

Note that I drew in some tabs so that it can be notched into the last wing rib. I usually design for laser cutting, but if you're a hand-builder, you can leave that kind of stuff out.

Now extrude this curve using the C switch to cap it off

Last edited by cathode; Aug 24, 2003 at 08:58 AM.
Jul 28, 2003, 10:10 AM
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To be continued....

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