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b macneil

What Software Are Toy Designers Using?

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Hello,

im new to this forum and was wondering if any one had information to share on what software toy companys are using to develop new products, specifically more organic designs like ,action figures or the types of toy characters you would find at Mcdonalds(suitable for injection molding)

 

I'm using Rhino at the moment and have used Zbrush for a few years making props for theme parks but the two programs don't work as seamless as you would think are needed for a toy production work flow.

 

ive seen an example from solidworks that fisher price was using their software but most of there designs are blocky and colud be done in almost any cad software.

does Mcfarlane toys use injection molding? if so how would they get hard molds made from there sculpts?

 

most factorys seem to be using cad engineering software to make their molds and require stp files not stl.

if your working in Rhino, solidworks or inventor/alias this is fine, but they are not capable of making expressive characters suitable for plastic injection molding.

is there any software that allows you to work on a mesh and convert it to a polysurface that can be exported in STP format.

 

any info on inventor and mudbox?

 

any information would be greatly appreciated or links to any other forums?

Thank you

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Hi B Macneil

Welcome to the forum.

In the toy company that I was working for we used Pro-Engineer but as you said, it's pretty hard getting a really smooth organic surface with it.

I think that your best choice would be to use the Tsplines Add-on on your rhino software. I have tried it a bit and it works great. You can convert files to STP from it.

Another thing to think of - I'm pretty sure that some Action figures (the small ones that fit on pencils back for example) are not Computer designed, but are sculpted...

If anyone knows differently I would be happy to hear.

Sculpted figures are being produced in a different method which doesn't require Computer programming - maybe you should look into that.

 

Lior

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Hi Lior,

Thank you for the feed back

I use t-splines but it still does not give you the freedom of brush based sculpting tools

I found this interview on my continued search with Joe Menna , he talks about using Zbrush for his digital sculpts for manufacturing toys along with other programs. his work is great and i've seen some of his work around in comic shops, pretty amazing stuff. I guess im looking for any information on this sort of workflow and getting the files prepared for manufacturing.

 

 

http://www.cgchannel.com/2011/05/qa-joe-menna-batman-sculptor/

Thanks again,

 

Bryan

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Although I am not a full time toy designer, I have worked on several toys.

 

I use SolidWorks every day and create many different shapes using this tool. As you noted, SolidWorks, ProE, Inventor, etc. are not very fast for making lots of organic shapes. It can be done, but its a bit slow and requires experience.

 

There are many other tools that are more freeform such as Rhino, SculptCAD, Mudbox, etc. These are great for conceptual designs, organic shapes, industrial design, etc. They allow you to explore many different shapes quickly and easily. Unfortunately, there is a downside to using these tools. Unlike tools such as SolidWorks, these freeform tools do not always produce water solid bodies. They allow features that do not fully define closed volumes. As a result, many factories have problems producing parts from the freeform tools alone.

 

I often take the freeform shapes into SolidWorks and product production ready designs. SolidWorks allows me to inspect the geometry and guarantee the resulting 3-D files are production ready. Of course, I am often asked to modify designs, add mounting features, scale parts,split parts, shell parts, etc.

 

In summary, I see designers of organic shapes using multiple tools - a freeform CAD tool combined with a more traditional and structured CAD tool.

 

As an alternative to creating original, organic designs in CAD, I work with sculpted models on a regular basis. The models are 3-D scanned and brought into a CAD tool for editing and conversion to production files. This also works very well if you use the proper tools. Converting from the 3-D scan data to a clean CAD file requires the use of a tool such a RapidForm or GeoMagic - another tool for your design arsenal.

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Unlike tools such as SolidWorks, these freeform tools do not always produce water solid bodies. They allow features that do not fully define closed volumes. As a result, many factories have problems producing parts from the freeform tools alone.

 

I meant to type "water tight solid bodies" above.

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Thank you, this is really helpful information.

 

I've made a few models for a company that i started recently started working for and had sent their factory some heavy stl. files hoping they would be able to take it from there. they said they would take way to long to convert to them any thing they could use , so I then decimated the original Zbrush files and went through the process of converting them to a polysurface for stp. export in rhino.

it was succecful but they haven't been received by the factory for tooling yet so im hoping they are usable, the analyse tools in rhino will give me the volume and they appear to be solid. I redesigned them in rhino as well for back up but I'm hoping the originals will be suitable, they have a much more organic feel.

 

Im still really new at producing models for plastic injection molds so im trying to figure out what the limitations are and what tools are out there. the company has been looking at other software options as well, can I ask what solid works has over rhino or any of the auto desk options? Im meeting with the auto desk sales people later this week and im trying to do some research before then.

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Hi again Bryan

T-spline doesn't have the free form of a sculpting tool, but it's pretty close to that, and it's models are always water tight.

You can divide a surface as many times as you want and make most of the effects you are looking for.

Try looking for the extrude and crease tools of T-splines in YouTube and you'll see what I mean.

 

Regarding the differences between SolidWorks and Rhino3D - the main difference is that SolidWorks is fully parametric, which means you cannot add a sketch somewhere in space but rather have to relate it to an axis or some other defined entity. This makes modelling harder in my opinion (especially if you're looking for fast modeling when your product isn't fully defined). On the other hand SolidWorks has great Plastic molding tools which will allow you to go into production directly.

 

Good luck

Lior

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I'm using Rhino3d and Zbrush.

 

I would like to k now what software folks are using to make jointed toys. I can pretty much test whether a joint is sound or not in Rhino but not without a lot of time.

Is there a software that will allow you to rotate your pieces, track its movement and then tell you if and where your parts are colliding?

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Thanks Liori,

I had a demonstration from the people at Auto desk for Alias and Invetor I can see there are some advantages to the software and we are considering a purchase.

Inventor seems to have more reliable fillet commands and some other useful tools for analysing your model. the software is ten times more expensive then Rhino/ T-splines but i'm not sure its that much better, hope some one can provide any more info. on this.

 

we are also looking at Sensables free form for doing organic models, does any one have any experience with this?

 

Jasun this tool looks great for jointed models heres a demo of an action figure,

 

http://www.sensable.com/documents/documents/Workflow_Toys_ActionFigure.pdf

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That program looks like a simplified zbrush with measuring tools.

I wish zbrush had a better system for modeling to measurments.

 

What that guy used was pretty much just a boolean. There wasn't anything for designing 'mechanical' joints for your toys. I seriously hope I don't have to get solidworks just to do this 1 thing...WIll have to see if it can even work with mesh data for that kind of mechanical analysis.

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