Product Development

We can help bring your products to life, from design to prototyping and sourcing raw materials and parts. We decided to illustrate how we use our experience with a real-life case study.

The brief

To design and manufacture a small range of affordable, easy to build quarry style rolling stock kits for use in a garden railway setting.

These kits must be manufactured to sit within the upper bracket of quality within the market place, be simple for the end user to build and be easy (therefore not expensive) to manufacture.

In order to achieve these criteria it was realised early in the design process that the kits would be manufactured using whichever media would:

  1. give the highest quality finish
  2. be the most cost effective

The retail price was established at the before mastering began and this drove the decision making process throughout.

The chassis

It was decided early on in the design process that the decks and the chassis would be case as one piece to reduce mould costs and handling time and, where possible, one deck would serve as the basis for multiple kits.

However experience has told us that the truss rod end bolt details would significantly reduce mould life, thus increasing costs. The cost of including of one small mould for these parts would be returned several times over in the increased mould life of the main chassis.

To aid in keeping the costs of mastering down to a reasonable level it was decided that one chassis (without a deck) would be mastered. This would then be moulded and used as the basis for all other kits only adding different decks.

The couplers are existing components from the Talisman brass range and would be used to save the time and cost of mastering new couplers. Originally envisaged as separate components that would bolt on to the chassis it was decided that the inclusion cast approach would be more cost efficient and give a superior finish to the completed model.

While running production test shots we decided that the brass couplers should be chemically blackened before casting to make it easier for the end user. The hooks and shackles would be supplied in the raw brass as these require further work by the builder before fitting to the model.

Inclusion Casting

Steel bolt included in the resin casting to give strength and engineering accuracy

Axle boxes

A cost comparison between resin, brass and white metal showed that white metal axes would be considerably cheaper than the alternatives, even taking into account the initial set up costs and outsourcing this aspect of production.

We cast the 20 axle boxes that would be needed to fill a white metal disc mould in heat-resistant resin from a small sub-master mould. While not cheap this resin can withstand temperatures up to 130°C which makes it viable for use in the vulcanising process used for make white metal moulds where normal resin would soften and deform.

By using white metal these axle boxes cost 25% of the alternatives and they are a saleable product in and of themselves.

Heat-Resistant Resin

Heat-resistant resin sub-masters used to make a vulcanised white metal mould, and white metal castings below

Wheels and axles

It is possible to buy ready-made axles of the correct length and diameter. However, it was decided that buying superior (silver steel) metal stock and cutting it ourselves was the cheaper and best method.

A number of manufacturers supply wheels of a suitable pattern and size. With an eye to quality and price we investigated the 2 main suppliers. One is manufactured with a steel tyre which has a number of aesthetic benefits, but comes at a price that was equal to 75% of the targeted retail price. The second option is a glass reinforced nylon wheel that, once painted, is virtually indistinguishable from the first and costs 80% less. The kit can take either wheelset but is supplied with the cheaper option, leaving the end user with the option to swap them if they wish.

The Range So Far

At every stage throughout the development of this range we have examined the options available to us in material, production method and readily available materials, while not cutting any corners when it comes to quality. We feel that we have met the brief in full and created a high quality product, at a budget price.