CAD program in Toy Design

Hey all,

I currently am able to work well in Rhino 4 but the Toy Company that I work at does not do any of it’s design in 3d. I currently work on a lot of internal toy concepts and mechanical drawings in 2d using sketching and the adobe suite. I would really like to push twords getting Rhino at the company but I would mostly like to get some input from some other Toy Desigers on whether Rhino is a good idea that will improve our process in some way. My feeling is that working on cocepts in 3d will speed our process up and also aid in getting a all around better product because you can get a better feel of the product when built in 3d vs. 2d orthogonal drawings.

Is it standard to use 3d programs as a product/industrial designer in the Toy Industry? If so, I need some help with my argument to spend money on some programs in a penny pinching time. Or I need help realizing that 3d won’t help me as much as I think.

The simple logic would be this:

When you hand off your 2D drawings, who do you give them to? An internal engineer? An outside manufacturer?

How much time and money is spent at the next phase, where the 2D is converted to 3D for tooling. Not sure what specifically you make or how it’s manufactured, but chances are if it’s made of plastic eventually it’s going to need to be built in 3D.

How many design iterations have to go back and forth between you and the person on the other side of that wall?

Within our organization, bringing 3D to within the ID group shortened the product development cycle by months. There was no more back and forth with engineers of “this curve isn’t curvy enough” or “this transition should look more like this”. By taking ownership of the 3D and handing off good clean solid models that were usable by the engineers (able to be shelled, drafted, etc) it was a major revolution in the way we do work, the quality of the product that was delivered, and the power held by the ID organization.

With that said it requires that the ID team be willing to own and deliver on all that additional work. In some ways the 2D handoff is “Easier”

We give the 2d ortho drawings directly to the manufacturer and have them engineer it. We do waste alot of time going back and fourth and after all the back and fourth it is not satisfaction that ends the process, it’s usually the deadline that dictates whether our changes are doable or not. It was my feeling that 3d would shorten that time. Thanks for the input.

In what instance would you say a 2d drawing would work better than a 3d model?

In my opinion, buying a seat of Rhino is well worth the cost. Considering that you can get it for less than $900 at online retailers, it will pay for itself very quickly in the time you save. Even with 2D drawings, there is a ton of interpretation when it gets to modeling it in 3D. With a 3D model, you are communicating your design intent MUCH more clearly, and that’s what it’s all about.

I work for a major toy company and use Rhino every day. I’ve used it to create countless models for building prototypes and for getting to engineers for communicating design intent. There is no other package out there that is as cost effective.

That said, if you had super-deep pockets, Solidworks is better for production stuff since the engineering can be done in the same package. With Rhino, my models always wind up being re-created in SW when it comes time for engineering. But they are both completely different kinds of programs, so you just need to figure out what suits your budget and work style the best.

Thanks for the help and info. This gives me a little more amunition when I aproach my boss about getting some programs.

Another question, what is the best setup for Rhino? I currently am familiar and use Maxwell as my render but I’m wondering what the dream setup is for add ons, plug ins etc.

One thing that is important to consider: Rhino may be more flexible but if you use it to create geometry that your engineers can’t use (surfaces with a lot of gaps that can’t be repaired), it may still cause issues in the process. It may be more worth considering Solidworks for this reason.

The only reason I said “2D is easier” is because it puts more work on the engineer then it does the designer. If you need to bang out concepts rapidly then that may be faster for you even if it’s less efficient for someone else.

That makes sense. I’ve never used Solidworks. I’ve wanted to jump in a Solidworks class at the two year college down the street but haven’t saved enough cash yet. Does Solidworks have a big learning curve?

IMO Solidworks is probably the easiest Solids package to pick up. It’s got a good UI and a lot of good resources out there for it. Plus it’s surfacing capabilities have really developed if you look at some of the work people are doing.

I’ll second that SW can make life easier in the end. To some extent it won’t allow you to make some of the “impossible” geometry you can create in Rhino. But, at the same time it will allow you to make impossible to manufacture pieces, too. Like anything, it takes practice to learn the “right” and “wrong” way to create something in terms of your efficiency at modeling parts.

However, if you pass off 3D Rhino models, your engineering staff will have an easier time understanding what you’re trying to pull off, IMO.

Nice! I think at this point I might just lean twords Rhino cuz it’s a easier sell. It’s cheaper and I know how to use it. Maybe Solidworks later (after I take some classes). I fear them buying it for me and then me trying to explain why I suck so bad at it to start. LOL. I know there’s a learning curve but our deadlines makes everybody here intense.

Does anybody have a really good setup of Rhino and extras that work real good (render/add ons/plug ins ect)? I work with a Maxwell renderer but I’m wondering if something might work better or improve my productivity. I would like to get my management a exact list of programs and pricing estimates when I meet with them. Any input would be much apreciated.


Get a local reseller to quote you a package price with 1 seat, annual maintenance (upgrades and tech support), and training courses. That’s how I learned SW…

1 ohh I didn’t even think of that.

What are your goals for renderings? Do you need hyper photorealism and can you wait hours for a render? If so Maxwell, Vray, or possibly Modo are all good options. I personally prefer Autodesk Showcase since it is a realtime GPU render and it takes me about 15 minutes to go from a 3D model to a final visual that I can ship out to the marketing guy, engineering team, customer etc. It won’t be photorealistic but it gets 90% of the way there in 10% of the time which is hugely valuable to me. The hypershot spinoffs (Keyshot and Bunkspeed Shot) are also worth looking at.

I’m looking to do get quick renders to get the ball rolling but also have the capability to do long renders that look great for presentations and also be able to get great product shots images so we can get packaging rolling before we get final product.

I can attest that the new bunkspeed shot is fantastic. Soo easy to use and bang out awesome renders. Cheap too. Have a try. They have a 30 day trial on the website.

anyone use the sensible products for toy design? i know matel and fisher-price use the farro arm for the wood detail on their plastic toys.

I’ve never used Rhino in an actual project but I’ve seen models done in it. I use Solidworks and its ideal because its a parametric modeler. Also depends on the toys your designing. I do alot of diecast vehicles and preschool toys so I can get by with SW. Rhino would be better for figures though. I like the cage that Rhino has and the way other polygon modelers work and wish there was a way solidworks could be more like that. But for designing mechanism with gear trains, cams, levers etc SW is the way to go plus your cost package drawings are a snap (overalls, exploded/cross sections)- not sure if Rhino has that feature-

Learning both would be a great way to go–


I think you’ve got that link wrong, I’m assuming you mean SensAble’s Freeform?

We use a combination of Freeform and Solidworks data in our toy development.

More in line with the OP though, we often issue a range of data to our clients and vendors, including native Solidworks files, Illustrator elevations as well as 1:1 foam models and sketched elevations.

We use real clay models, laser digitize, then import into Rhino3D for surfacing. Virtual, onscreen, clay with virtual surface “feel” through simulation, I can imagine the bad disconnect from the real world form. The singular advantage, no clay chips to clean up. I have seen Rapidform surfaced models, models built in Solidworks, models built in Catia, I prefer the Rhino3D result.

I have used Rhino for the past ten-twelve years to build free form and technical products, shoe lasts, blow molded toys, EPS sculpted bike helmets, snowboard bindings. If you know what you are building, Rhino will build it just fine, if there are manufacturing restriction that you know of, such as mold parting lines, Rhino3D will work great. If you need things such as draft angles done automatically, better to use the more technical, restrictive modelers like SolidWorks, or import into for technical interior work.

I was in a similar situation and had to beg for Rhino about 8 years ago to cut down on drafting time (can auto generate views, albeit you might have to clean them up and reconnect lines sometimes) and to use photo real views to communicate with factories . I had a hard time learning it and still am always learning it but I am probably older than you and come from a time when we did not learn on computers in school and had to learn AutoCAD 12 and Adobe and windows programs on my first job and at night on my own.

I have found from reading that the program can model anything, its just the user that is the limitation and time.
I’ve found that obviously, not all 3D forms are created with the same ease and Rhino is very specific about how you close off shapes to make them a watertight solid, also their boolean tools are very finnickey (they don’t like coincident planes and borders). At my level, I am very careful what I try to model. For example I would not be able to model a realistic, muscle-bound superhero with a cape - do you use something like Z-Brush for that?. I am not sure what is best for that sort of stuff. But all in all for product-like shapes, the program makes me look good, but I’ve had to put a lot of time and $1200 into two training courses and constant referencing manuals to get there. If your dept. is budget concious, use rhino, it is the highest performance, lowest cost equation. To date there are now maintenance, subscription fees, buy it once, upgrade when you want. It’s Flamingo renderer is good, but for another $250. got better with FlamingoNXT. One of the bigger disappointments for me was their was no shelling command, but in 5.0 they have this - it is beta now. THere are also a lot of plug-in now too to do stress analysis and it seems someone is always coming out with plugins.

I am in the same boat, what I really want to use Solidworks because most of the jobs I see require it over Rhino but I can’t afford it and the learning curve I hear is steep. I think you concern is valid where you think your employer may balk if your not productive with SW after spending so much on it, unless you can sell it to them where your sent for training and explain it is powerful but commands a bit of training.