THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION FOR PRODUCT CREATION
3D design, material visualisation and sampling enable creative efficiency and more sustainable business practices
The digital revolution for product creation in the sports and fashion industry has been a long time coming, as early adopters have been exploring how to best integrate 3D software solutions into the design and development process for well over a decade. 3D design and visualisation software is an efficient tool to make better-informed design decisions, which are likely to reduce the numbers of samples required, while allowing designers to spend more quality time to be creative.
The current global health emergency caused by the Coronavirus outbreak has resulted in significant restrictions around travel, face-to-face meetings and other business practices. This situation is an urgent wake-up call to rethink how our industry does business and is likely to accelerate the adoption of more digital and virtual creative processes in the future.
The LTP team are always keen to embrace opportunities for more efficient and sustainable product development and here we highlight the key trends around digital product creation, before providing a glimpse into our new virtual sampling service, which was set up to support our customers in their transition to digital product creation.
A growing number of designers are discovering new types of software and technologies to create unique products and ways of interacting with consumers. Swedish fashion studio Atacac was an early disruptor in this field, as all their products are designed through three-dimensional visualisation, which is used to replace all physical prototypes and enables the company to display and sell products before they have been made.
The Fabricant is a digital fashion house specialising in ‘digital-only’ clothing, which explores the concept that clothes don’t necessarily need to exist physically to provide an exciting user experience. The company is also in high demand for creative collaborations, which explore the potential of 3D design and visualisation in the fashion industry. Their recent collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger aimed to inspire the design teams to adopt digital design techniques, in order to accelerate the brand’s transition towards fully digital design. As part of the project, The Fabricant created a proof-of-concept digital hooded sweatshirt to demonstrate that this way of working drastically reduces timelines, while providing the opportunity to operate on a production-on-demand business model in the future.
Material simulation & digitisation
As life-like digital material appearance is key to a successful 3D design process, the lack of authentic material simulation, blamed on the complex behaviour of materials, has often been cited as one of the issues holding 3D design adoption back. However, a new generation of material digitalisation tools has the potential to reduce the need for physical material swatches and therefore decrease the vast amount of sample yardage created by fabric suppliers each season, as well as cut down on the number of physical product prototypes, as critical material decisions can be made earlier.
Digital material libraries are revolutionising the use of materials, reducing the dependency on physical fabric samples, while adding authenticity to 3D designs and product presentations. Although most designers still like to tap into the inspiration that comes from touching, feeling and seeing fabric samples as part of the design process, these new platforms can provide an additional tool and are likely to turn into essential resources over the next couple of seasons, as many fabrics tradeshows, conferences and business trips have been postponed or cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Cloud-based digital materials hub swatchbook provides a material visualisation and management platform, which brings together brands and suppliers to explore, visualise and share ‘real materials’. Design teams can collaborate with other teams in their organisation, as well as communicate directly with suppliers and other global partners. Once they have selected their favourite materials through sophisticated filtering methods, designers can visualise and try out the materials in their designs through a variety of compatible 3D design programs. The advantage for material suppliers is the maximisation of global exposure of their collection, while minimising sample waste and cutting shipping costs.
Material Exchange was founded in 2017 to provide apparel and footwear brands with practical support to enable the shift from 2D to 3D product creation and manufacture. Through the use of filters, users can easily search, select and export digitalised materials, which can be chosen from the comprehensive library in accordance with any required sustainability accreditations and certifications. The platform further enables communication and collaboration between brands, material suppliers and manufacturers, driving supply chain transparency and adoption of sustainable business practices.
Virtual sampling & development
Despite the obvious advantages of digital product creation, the industry has been slow to adopt virtual design, sampling and development, as the costs of 3D software packages as well as the time and effort required for training and up-skilling can be prohibitive. In addition, many 3D software program users also complain about compatibility issues with other indispensable PLM tools and systems.
However, in light of current global events, which are causing significant complications for the textile and fashion industry, the need to develop and implement virtual sampling and development systems has become increasingly urgent. The LTP team recognised this opportunity and have set up an in-factory virtual sampling and development service for its customers. After familiarising themselves with a wide selection of programs, the team chose the CLO 3D garment simulation system, as it comes with many features, such as regular and free program updates, easy import and export of different types of files from other systems, simple creation and use of moving avatars or scanned figures and quick use of patterns, which can easily be exported back into the factory’s Gerber system.
The team is excited that this first step into digitalisation will enable the creation of ‘pre samples’ in virtual form, which means they can be reviewed with the customer, utilising the CLO-SET program. Garments can be displayed on an avatar in a selection of poses to check details such as seams, curves, proportions, fit and placement of other design details including prints and trims. This process will make sure that the first proto sample is correct and eliminates the need for further sampling, before details are agreed to finalise and grade patterns in the factory’s Gerber system.
Several brands have already signed-up to this new service and are currently testing virtual sampling with one initial style, so that they can gain a better understanding of the process, results and potential for future developments. If you are interested in finding out more please contact Business Development Manager Jurga Sirvydaite at firstname.lastname@example.org.