Software And Hardware For Kite Design

by Tony Sangster
(Adelaide, SA, Australia)


I am trying to find the best software with which to design and draw kites - 2D and 3D. It is a challenge to try and develop templates for 3D shapes in particular. Also how to best print out these patterns.

I appreciate that nothing really comes free but I would be interested in how free-ware and share-ware might compare to commercial software products also. I would prefer to use a Mac computer but ultimately it depends on which are the best programs.


Good old Windows Paint (or the Mac equivalent) can produce passable 2D results, as everyone can see on the Plans pages of this site. But of course, rescaling neatly requires a complete re-draw from scratch. Plus plenty of stabbing at a calculator keypad to get the new dimensions in pixels!

Regarding more capable and sophisticated software for this job, here is what I found...

I'll start with possibly ther most interesting for you - a free-form (with free-to-use demo version) 3D CAD package for the Mac, called CB Model Pro...

I'm not sure exactly how well the features will suit kite-design, but it is definitely worth a look. For powerful 2D drawing features, there is also InkScape for the Mac...

For Windows, there are plenty of free products that should provide useful 2D and 3D capability, including output to printer. One example, possibly the best for raw beginners in 3D modelling, is 3DVia Shape...

Interestingly, this program has been dubbed 'the Windows Paint for 3D' by one reviewer! A more powerful option, though still free, is ActiveSolid...

In general, there are dozens of freeware or demo version 2D CAD programs out there for Windows - although very few, if any, which list Windows 7 compatibility. That's not to say they won't work, you'd have to try and see. Many of these can be found here...

Due to the popularity of kite-surfing and paragliding, the best purpose-made software seems to service this sector of the hobby. In fact, the high-end software versions are only for professional use! However, for any relatively simple ram-air wing designing, the following hobby version of the SurfPlan product is just the ticket... (and it's right here in Oz!)

A more classic piece of kite design software is FoilMaker, originating in the U.K. ...

Also worth a look is software from Inflatable Kite Design...

Might leave it there. I have occasionally considered the idea of writing a drafting program aimed at sticked single-liners. But that might have to wait, if it ever happens at all. We all have pipe dreams! It all boils down to time available...

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Jun 04, 2012
Computer Programs For Kite Design
by: Tony Sangster

Tim, thank you for your thoughtful and comprehensive answer. I shall explore the programs you have mentioned and let you know what suits best.

A kite designer mentioned to me yesterday uses Corel Draw - a program he purchased about 8 to 10 years ago. There are probably many more programs out there now. Apart from the cost of the program the challenge is getting used to the program and using it to full advantage.

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Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7