Home Community Case studies Character design

Animax uses T-Splines and RhinoCAM Print E-mail

T-Splines enables unprecedented collaboration with clients on design variations and creates CAM-ready models for RhinoCAM.

The customer

Animax Designs, Inc., based in Nashville, TN, is a character creation company, the “High Performance” Puppet Workshop, specializing in the design, fabrication, and animation of physical three-dimensional characters including live hand puppets, mechanized puppets, articulated costume characters, and realistic animatronics.


“Using both T-Splines and RhinoCAM as part of our design and manufacturing process, we are able to go from concept to production much faster and support many design iterations even with tight project deadlines. The tight integration of both products in Rhino provides a seamless workflow and user experience for our design and process engineers.”
- Rick Smith, Design and Process Engineer, Animax Designs

Case Study

The challenge

Animax shoe

The team at Animax employs various techniques and methodologies in design and construction combining traditional artistic methods and digital design with CNC manufacturing techniques.

Animax derives its 3D content from various sources including 2D drawings, 3D scans, and free-form 3D models. Specific manufacturing techniques are based on model shape, size, material, and purpose. The resulting prototypes, parts and molds are produced through direct CNC machining or Rapid Prototyping.

Key challenges in this process are speed, flexibility and accuracy. Projects for television, advertising and film are often under tight deadlines and there are demanding requirements for the accurate modeling and representation of the characters. Designers need to produce rapid and accurate 3D models that are easy to modify or ‘sculpt-able’, ‘CAM-ready’ and interoperable with other 3D applications.

The solution

T-Splines and RhinoCAM, both fully integrated in the Rhino CAD application have been successfully adopted at Animax to address these challenges. The team has been using RhinoCAM for three years and T-Splines since its initial commercial release in 2007.

T-Splines allows the production of 3D models with the desired traits from various sources (3D scans, existing CAD models, and “from scratch” free-form). The interoperability of exported T-Splines models has allowed unprecedented collaboration with clients, peers, and our design and production departments.

Animax employs Rhino as the primary CAD application based on Rhino’s free-form design approach and the interoperability that Rhino excels at in working with multiple and differing 3D design applications. Animax also employs parametric modeling, primarily for assembly, kinematics, and interference analysis.

Animax uses several other software packages depending upon the project specifics and the needs of the clients, which is often based on their particular software choices. For the most part, these take the form of 3D modeling, scanning, and retopology tools but may include rendering, animation, and kinematic studies. Fortunately, Rhino has the ability to import and work with various file formats and part geometries. The fact that T-Splines and RhinoCAM work within the Rhino environment has allowed Animax to reduce the overall number of applications necessary for design and production.

Future Direction

The team at Animax is looking forward to increasing their knowledge and usage of the capabilities of T-Splines to further improve the design and manufacturing processes.

Learn more

To learn more about T-Splines and how it could help accelerate and improve your design process, please visit www.tsplines.com

To learn more about Rhino, please visit www.rhino3d.com

Return to the case studies home page.

Visit our tutorials section.