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Monday, July 3, 2017

An open letter to kit manufacturers and their CAD designers ;-)

We gain some, we lose some.
An open letter to kit manufacturers and their CAD designers:

As new technologies (in this case CAD and 3D printing and such) come into play at the kit-making universe, there are some wonderful things that happen and others that are unfortunately not so good.
Same happened when we went from vinyl to CD, or camera film to digital cameras.
We gain some, we lose some.
In our particular case, the nice computer-able people that work for our enjoyment, not always understands the aviation world or even the kit-building process, the ultimate goal of their job.
Some solutions that seem to work on the computer screen are not at all beneficial for the actual modeler, and some things that make sense in the designer's mind are an inconvenience (or an impossibility) for modelers.
As these technologies are incorporated, much will be learned and many advantages of it will finally fructify.
Meanwhile, a couple of suggestions for all manufacturers now "going digital":
-Some kits appearing in the market are frankly a bit "chunky" or clunky, somewhat rough, and have a bit exaggerated or simplified detail. The program used to create them may have been the same that created Superman's "Bizarros".
-A plane is not an aggregation of more or less complex geometrical volumes, it's an organic, living-breathing Gestalt. Remember: form follows function, learn what is the function of those parts you are designing, and how they act. It may help.
-Ping-pong ball protruding rivets, or tea cup-size counter-sunk rivets, are not really nice for modelers. On the other hand, detail so faint that disappears after the first primer coat is of no use.
There is a happy medium between a Mariana Trench panel line and a nearly invisible spider thread.
-Learn how and why things work, so that propellers look like propellers, airfoils look like airfoils, and so on.
-Too minute details with microns of tolerance don't fare well in the actual building board.
-Painting is part of the building process, and the steps have to be logical to allow for it or at least give some degree of comfort to the modeler. Consider that whilst you design.
-What remains "glued" together on the screen of a computer, does not necessarily behave the same way in reality: it would be great to provide positive anchoring and locking devices, with some mechanical resistance, and if possible that they will contribute to the general alignment, that would be a welcome bonus
-Molding takes a toll, consider that when you design parts. Ill-located sprue gates make a modeler's life difficult. Ejector towers or marks on the visible side of a part are no good.
-Please, please, designers: it's a good exercise (and check) tobuild your own kits. If you can't, ask for the help of good modelers close to you, wherever you are. Rely on them to provide feedback on the actual instructions, parts, fit, and the like.
-And remember: the detail that you are visually manipulating on your computer screen magnified 20 times, is actually a minute part modelers have eventually to deal with.
-Is that hard to make good instructions? to tell modelers exactly where parts go? Is it necessary to depict a 1mm part with a 1mm drawing? can't we have a bigger drawing?
-I don't have to tell you, computer people, that there is a thing called Internet, or browser, or search engine: look up for photos of what you are designing. You may be surprised of how different reality is from a 3 view.

We love you, we need you, we welcome you, we depend on you for our hobby, and we know you are not making a great fortune. But we assume you love what you do as much as we do. To care is to love. To love is to care.

P/S: look at this "manually-made" (the former "digital"= made with fingers) master-maker, from many years ago, look at the level of detail, the knowledge of the subject, the precision (on the other hand, the kit produced by ICM with this masters, has despicable instructions and unusable decals):
The technical tools now available are wonderful, they have to be paired with more experience knowledge.

Kits are improving, no doubt, and will continue to do so. We owe that to you, patient scribes of the digital universe ;-)