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Model Railroading > How we design and launch products

Date: 06/16/22 09:30
How we design and launch products
Author: rapidotrains

Hi all,

I want to give some insight into how we design and launch products.

We first work with the factory to design one version of a model. Once we feel that design is correct, we design the different versions based on that original. 

One of the biggest challenges we have with all our factories is getting a 3D render of the model with all the correct details for a given prototype. For example, the RS-11 has numerous horns. We may approve a drawing of the New Haven version with the Hancock air whistle, but then every time we ask for a new version of the New Haven 3D render, it shows an M3H horn. We know the designer has made the air whistle, and the mounting hole for the air whistle is clearly visible, but he keeps forgetting to "unhide" the whistle from his master file when he makes the EASM file.

We see the mould list from the factory so we know the Hancock is on the mould and we know the New Haven body has the mounting hole for the Hancock in the right place, but the 3D renders keep showing the M3H. So we don't worry about it. When we are in production, we create highly detailed artworks which call out each part number, so the factory knows to install the Hancock on the New Haven units.

When we launch a product, we used to use the EASM files which are low resolution and multi-coloured. Now Jeremy has the ability to make these really cool 3D renders off the STP file of the model when he makes a video. That takes several hours for his computer to generate, even though he has a really powerful computer. 

We ask the factory for an STP file for Jeremy, and - like the EASMs - these are often a hodgepodge of different details put into one file. So on that RS-11 render, you may have a PRR radiator shutter, an NKP light package, and New Haven style stanchions. We try and get the STP file to match one version, but sometimes we run out of time. I should note that none of us at Rapido (in North America) is a 3D CAD engineer. So we can't edit those STP files.

In the case of the C30-7, we hit the same time wall. If you look at the artwork mockups, these are based on more finished design drawings. The 3D render is just that - a render. The good news is the launch had the desired effect. We wanted to find the experts on the specific C30-7 versions who could help us tweak the design and ensure it is correct before we go to tooling, and we have done that. Many of them have already been in touch with Josh and his top priority in the coming weeks will be to finish the C30-7 designs and get the model into tooling. 

It is another big challenge for manufacturers to find experts in a prototype before we have launched it because sometimes we can't let the cat out of the bag too early. When we have super amazing uber experts on board from the start, like we do for the GP9RM in the form of Dan Darnell and Dave Minshall, we are confident enough to go to tooling before we launch. But with a project as complex (i.e. so many versions) as the C30-7 and with no C30-7 mavens on staff, we chose to launch before we go to tooling so we can work with the experts and weed out the minor design issues in the model first.

We did that for the GP38 and it is going to be a beauty. Matt worked closely with some GP38 experts to get it as close to perfect as we could. We should have samples of that soon.

There you have it from the horse's mouth. 


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.

P.S. For a laugh, a while back we made some RS-11 models look like they would have using the factory's 3D renders. We call these the Frankenunits.

Date: 06/16/22 09:41
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: ChrisCampi

I appreciate the insight. 

Date: 06/16/22 09:51
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: mcdeo

Yes, really do like the insight and thought process. And the power of the community is always greater than individuals. The good news about the internet is, the vast amount of knowledge. The downside, the ease in which people just complain because they can. 

Keep up the great work and love the models that you produce. While I don't buy everything, I am a frequent customer. 

Mike ONeill
Parker, CO

Date: 06/16/22 10:02
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: mpe383


As a hobbiest, I appreciate your willingness to communicate directly with the scale modeling community.  I know this opens you up to criticisms from some, and I want you to know the "silent majority" really appreciate your efforts.  I also appreciate what a difficult time it is to be a small business involved in international trade.  I hope that all your projects are successful!


Date: 06/16/22 15:39
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: TomG

Thanks for feedback Jason. It is great to hear from a manufacturer, most never bother to consort with end users. Its great to see the steps you are taking for the C30-7, I can't wait to own a trio of UPs.

Weaverville, CA

Date: 06/16/22 18:09
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: NYSW1904

Jason YOU ARE THE MAN!!!!!!

Date: 06/16/22 19:43
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: JUTower

Definitely appreciate the insight here, makes sense to me.  I've preordered two C30-7s and have several B36-7s.  If/when you come out with C36-7 and/or C30-7A Conrail units, count me in.  And, for the Conrail GP38, if you did higher 7800 series (say, 7880 on up to low 7900s) I'd have to buy four to cover my area.


Date: 06/16/22 21:19
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: SandPatch1

Thank you for your service to the hobby,  
yes i would buy one of those,  it could be real, after Conrail,they had lots of parts laying around, we see them with differnt doors, but why not other parts
dave j

Date: 06/16/22 23:40
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: funnelfan

Actually I'm surprised that the CAD work isn't being done in Rapido world headquarters. I always assumed that it was. It's been a while since I've been heavy into doing any CAD work, but I really want to get back into it to design freightcars for 3D printing that are unique enough to probably not warrant a commercial model.

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA

Date: 06/17/22 11:47
Re: How we design and launch products
Author: rapidotrains

Thanks everyone for your kind and supportive words. 


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