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Setting measurement units and tolerance

From: Rhino 4 Essential Training

Video: Setting measurement units and tolerance

In this video, we'll define the two terms, Units and Tolerance, and explain their relationship. Unfortunately, some people start modeling and forget to check these two critical settings for a new project, or when using someone else's file. You can then end up with serious accuracy problems later. Sometimes, these errors can be so intrinsic that the project really needs to be remodeled with more appropriate settings. Yup! Sorry to tell you, but sometimes you do need to start over. Let's start off by examining Units first. We access those from the Tools options.

Setting measurement units and tolerance

In this video, we'll define the two terms, Units and Tolerance, and explain their relationship. Unfortunately, some people start modeling and forget to check these two critical settings for a new project, or when using someone else's file. You can then end up with serious accuracy problems later. Sometimes, these errors can be so intrinsic that the project really needs to be remodeled with more appropriate settings. Yup! Sorry to tell you, but sometimes you do need to start over. Let's start off by examining Units first. We access those from the Tools options.

It's actually an icon that looks like a yellow gear. We can click that as well. I'm going to select, under Document Properties, Units, and right now we are in Millimeters. So, that's actually a pretty handy unit to use and is valuable for like product design whereas feet or meters would work better for large-scale projects. Let's take a look at some of these units we can set. So, here is all the familiar ones, Millimeters, the Kilometers, all the way down to Lightyears and Parsecs.

I haven't done a project that big yet. The good news about this is you can set the Units upfront and then actually change them anytime, multiple times during the course of a project, although you probably wouldn't want to, but Rhino will react by asking you if you'd like to scale the file. That can take a lot of problems away right off the bat, at least for changing Units. Let's now talk about the tolerance. This can be a little difficult to understand, but probably the best way to look at it is the accuracy of the file.

So, in this case, we've got three decimal places, and in general, a smaller number with more decimal places means more accuracy. A larger setting means lower accuracy. So, I've got a demonstration prepared; hopefully, it will make this even more clear. So, this file was generated with a high tolerance of three decimal places, and I decided to go ahead and put some thickness on this sail. You're seeing a radius of 0.4 units around.

Let's come up to the corner. This is where you usually have problems, but this is nice and clean. So, the 0.4 radius that ran around the entire perimeter, works fine with a tolerance that was far more accurate than it needed to be. Let's take a look at some low tolerance issues and how to identify them. In this case, I lowered the tolerance to 1, pretty high, and then ran a Fillet of 0.4, actually the same size. So, see, we have a tolerance level of a differential of about 1,000.

Let's see what happens. So, here is the result. We cannot generate geometry accurately or reliably. That's smaller than the tolerance. So, that's probably the biggest reason to have the tolerance as high as you possibly would need, although we have to be careful. You don't want to have the tolerance too high. It can add so much additional calculations to the software that it can slow down, especially with larger files. That's kind of the relationship between Units and Tolerance, and I'm going to tell you now the best way to start a brand-new file, if you have this option.

I'm going to go to File > New. When we get to this Template File interface, Rhino actually is organizing the units and tolerances together, in pairs. For example, we have Small Objects - Millimeters, which is what I've done in this file. This note will tell you exactly where it's best suited. For example, this says a small object millimeter is best for using objects smaller than a truck and for objects which must be built to manufacturing tolerances.

So, these are pairing up the units and tolerances into a logical connection. This is probably the best way to start a brand-new file. However, if you get a file from someone else, you definitely would want to check what units you're working in and the tolerance thereof before you do too much work. I'll go ahead and cancel out of this. Units and tolerances often get confused or ignored, and they're really not that hard to understand. I suggest use the Templates via the File > New command and just go with Rhino defaults.

However, if the project is expected to have intricate details, then by all means, increase that tolerance by a factor of 10 or so. One final tip: even though you can change the tolerance at any time in Rhino, that's not a good solution and can easily make problems much, much worse. A changed tolerance only affects objects created from that point forward, so it does not fix older objects. Then you actually have the far worse problem of different pieces of geometry with different tolerances, definitely a situation to avoid.

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This video is part of

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Rhino 4 Essential Training

67 video lessons · 16846 viewers

Dave Schultze
Author

 
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  1. 4m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      28s
    3. Recommended hardware
      2m 44s
  2. 19m 8s
    1. Understanding the three types of entities: curves, surfaces, and solids
      5m 51s
    2. Comparing Bezier curves, B-splines, and NURBS objects
      3m 35s
    3. Comparing isocurve surfaces and mesh surfaces
      4m 50s
    4. Setting measurement units and tolerance
      4m 52s
  3. 18m 16s
    1. Introducing the viewport
      3m 20s
    2. Using construction planes to anchor model design
      5m 27s
    3. Changing the way a model is viewed using shading modes
      3m 11s
    4. Navigating the viewport with pan, zoom, rotate, and reset controls
      3m 24s
    5. Exploring help options
      2m 54s
  4. 29m 48s
    1. Understanding Rhino's command philosophy
      3m 10s
    2. Using toolbars and docking buttons to a toolbar
      3m 33s
    3. Navigating the geometry menus using a "department store" analogy
      3m 35s
    4. Using the command line and status bar to get feedback
      4m 56s
    5. Modifying the nudge control and setting other preferences
      6m 54s
    6. Using the Properties window
      3m 1s
    7. Opening and saving files
      4m 39s
  5. 14m 24s
    1. Creating basic objects: curves, surfaces, and solids
      4m 22s
    2. Performing basic transformations
      3m 14s
    3. Selecting objects
      3m 37s
    4. Organizing a project using layers
      3m 11s
  6. 21m 18s
    1. Understanding lines and polylines
      4m 10s
    2. Building rectangles and polygons
      5m 12s
    3. Creating arcs, circles, and ellipses
      7m 8s
    4. Drawing freeform curves
      4m 48s
  7. 47m 36s
    1. Comparing different types of 3D surfaces
      7m 11s
    2. Extruding surfaces to create features in a model
      8m 58s
    3. Creating surfaces with lofts
      7m 49s
    4. Using Revolve and Rail Revolve to create surfaces
      7m 42s
    5. Using Sweep Rail to create a 3D claw
      7m 49s
    6. Creating complex surface shapes using Network Surface
      8m 7s
  8. 46m 48s
    1. Introducing solids
      5m 42s
    2. Making solids with primitives
      5m 41s
    3. Extruding curves to create solids without primitives
      8m 59s
    4. Creating unique shapes with the union, difference, and intersection Boolean operators
      6m 46s
    5. Troubleshooting solids and Booleans
      8m 53s
    6. Editing with the solid edit tools
      6m 20s
    7. Creating and transforming holes in solids
      4m 27s
  9. 27m 8s
    1. Understanding Rhino's modeling aids
      3m 59s
    2. Working with the Grid Snap modeling aid
      2m 22s
    3. Using the Ortho modeling aid
      3m 4s
    4. Using the Planar modeling aid
      2m 4s
    5. Incorporating the Osnap modeling aid into your workflow
      6m 7s
    6. Understanding the Project and Smart Track modeling aids
      4m 42s
    7. Setting cursor constraints
      4m 50s
  10. 50m 14s
    1. Editing corners with Fillet and Chamfer
      7m 38s
    2. Trimming and splitting with curve Booleans
      5m 37s
    3. Moving and rotating objects with the Drag and Nudge tools
      7m 24s
    4. Copying and pasting objects
      4m 10s
    5. Understanding how Rhino uses Undo and Redo
      3m 42s
    6. Grouping objects
      3m 21s
    7. Scaling objects
      6m 40s
    8. Duplicating objects using the Mirror command
      6m 36s
    9. Making copies and structured sets using arrays
      5m 6s
  11. 20m 37s
    1. Using the Analysis toolbar to understand characteristics of a model
      6m 14s
    2. Defining degrees of curve and surfaces
      6m 6s
    3. Using Rebuild and Change Degree
      8m 17s
  12. 26m 21s
    1. Measuring and labeling values on a model using dimensioning
      5m 22s
    2. Creating screen captures for quick proofs
      5m 16s
    3. Creating 2D views of a 3D model
      6m 44s
    4. Rendering a project
      8m 59s
  13. 22m 5s
    1. Preparing a model for prototyping by confirming that all gaps are closed
      5m 17s
    2. Using the "shelling" technique to create wall thickness
      10m 54s
    3. Exporting to the STL format for 3D printing
      5m 54s
  14. 14s
    1. Goodbye
      14s

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