Texprocess 2015: Software solutions enhance speed and visibility

22 May 2015 | Features & Interviews | Source: Leonie Barrie

Tools for improved colour communication, 3D design and prototyping, and the integration of key business functions were unveiled at the recent Texprocess trade fair in Frankfurt, Germany. And faster time-to-market, better quality, lower cost and increased productivity are among the benefits.

Communicating digital colour data
Epson, Caddon, ColorDigital and the German Institute for Fashion (DMI) all teamed up to present an innovative solution for communicating digital data on colour, patterns and material surfaces across the globe. The process starts with the Can:scan imaging system from Caddon, which uses multispectral technology to measure colour and surfaces such as buttons, and printed or knitted fabrics – and translate this into production-ready data. The resulting digital information forms the basis of the DMIx colour communication workflow, and can be shared with dyehouses, mills and factories around the world via the ColorDigital cloud-based portal. The data can also be used for prototyping, to shorten the sampling loop to get to final production without having to send fabric or material samples back and forth.

Other benefits of the technology are that it can also be used on a standard web browser, which takes it out of an industrial setting. And the on-screen image can be printed onto paper to give an exact replica of how it will appear on fabric. It is also possible to print onto polyester textiles using an Epson SureColor SC-F7100 dye-sublimation printer. Pilots with a German brand are said to have reduced sampling time from 8-10 cycles to just two cycles.

Customised printed shoes
Brother showed a version of its GT-3 Series direct to garment printer, which has been modified to print on cotton-based shoes. The platen, over which the shoe or boot is placed, is footwear-shaped and moves inside the unit, where the printing takes place. The system uses all types of graphics software, features different printheads for different colours, and directly prints on the shoe. The print needs to be cured with a heat gun for up to one minute. The system can be used for both samples and commercial production of customised fashion items. The print is said to be colourfast for 30-40 washes.

3D digital samples
With the goal of "revolutionising fashion in 3D," Optitex unveiled version O/15 of its integrated 2D/3D platform featuring its latest innovations in 3D digital simulation and sample development workflow. More lifelike simulations and speedier, easier workflow are among the software’s highlights.

"We're now able to make digital samples in half the time," Optitex CEO Asaf Landau, told just-style. "We've tested it on apparel and are lowering the number of stitches by 47%. We've provided more fabrics, more avatars, more hardware, animations, and poses - really giving the ability to create digital samples in a very straightforward way."

Because the company’s 2D and 3D solutions are combined in the same user interface, data doesn’t have to be moved from one to the other, making the process faster and more streamlined. It also makes for improved cross-simulation of natural pleats, authentic collars and cuffs from 2D pattern pieces to 3D digital samples.

The O/Cloud Platform layers on top of this with 3D visual apps – Digital Collection, OneShot Photoshoot, Collaboration, Online Publishing, Showroom – sharing and using the 3D images, views and avatar poses elsewhere in a company.

3D World in action
With a range of software solutions covering the entire process from first idea to store design, one of the biggest highlights from the Human Solutions Group was its '3D World' demonstrated on a multi-action i-Wall. Based around its Vidya 3D simulation tool, the company showed how the software works with real body dimensions from its iSize portal – which now includes data on plus-size women – sewn 2D CAD pattern pieces, and real material parameters to enable clothing companies to check size, fit and fabric drape on a static or moving avatar. Material data from PLM GoLive can also be integrated directly into Vidya, and 3D Vidya views opened in PLM. The 3D images now have a photo-realistic quality, which extends their use to multichannel and marketing presentations.

Other innovations include a "Virtual Scanner" that uses the iSize database to create realistic customer avatars based on age, gender, body height and weight information. A tool developed by Human Solutions compares product and brand size tables with the customer avatar to enable accurate size prediction in online shopping. And the new Vitus colour body scanner, developed in conjunction with Vitronic, makes virtual fashion try-ons even more realistic.

For manufacturers, new Automarker and Autocost features help reduce material costs through improved placement of complex fabrics and patterns, and accurate calculation of material requirements for all sizes and plies.

Focus on connectivity
Under new corporate branding designed to emphasise its full range of products and the connectivity between them, one of the highlights from Gerber Technology was the new AccuMark 10 pattern design, grading, planning and marker making software with the option of a fully integrated 3D module.

With the goal of helping manufacturers "get their products to market faster, smarter and better," the tool offers accurate 3D visualisation of designs and corrections, reducing the time involved in development and sample making. There are improved 3D avatars and poses, along with the ability to move easily from 2D to 3D with automatic updates to changes. The new 3D module is Gerber’s own "powerful product" after a long-standing agreement to integrate Browzwear’s V-Stitcher technology into its tools ended last year.

A key message was the "digital solutions strategy connecting all our software products together for convenient and accurate data flow across all systems," according to Bill Brewster, vice president and general manager of Gerber Technology’s Yunique Solutions unit. This means 3D images generated in AccuMark V10 can be shared with development teams and supply chain partners around the world, through a new integration with YuniquePLM (product lifecycle management). "We've added the ability to read the YuniquePLM material database, because when you do virtual sampling you always want to include the fabric of the garment," Brewster added. The images can be included within the PLM pages for the tech-pack, for example.

Also new is a development calendar for visibility from design through product development, sourcing and the supply chain. The calendar is integrated with workflow capability, which means it is automatically updated as work such as creating styles, quotes or tech-packs is completed. And companies can now test drive YuniquePLM In The Cloud, a fashion-specific PLM solution available on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

3D visualisation and CAD for shoes
Highlights from Grafis were a new plug-in for 3D visualisation with Browzwear’s V-Stitcher, and a new user interface where the "virtual sewing" and 3D simulation takes place. Details such as material and textures can be assigned to the pattern pieces and seams within V-Stitcher. Modifications made in the Grafis 2D pattern design and grading software are automatically shown on the 3D model, helping to improve fit and style changes. Fit is also improved through the creation of customer-specific avatars.

Another add-on is the ProfileFitPattern Suite, which enables body measurements to be calculated from a digital photo rather than using a 3D body scanner. The customer is photographed in front and side profile in a predefined stance, and the images can be used to order made-to-measure garments online, for example.

Also launched at Texprocess was Grafis CAD Shoe Construction software to construct uppers and insoles. The "lasts" for ready-to-wear, orthopaedic or made-to-measure footwear are inserted as an import file or a picture file and then reconstructed digitally. Interactive constructions are available for various upper types such as Derby, Oxford, loafers and boots, and relate back to these lasts. Changes to one piece automatically results in adjustment of related pattern pieces after recalculation of all parts. For made-to-measure and orthopaedic shoes, separate adjustments are possible for the right and left shoe.

Business integration
Rebranding – and the integration of key business functions – was also a key theme for CGS (Computer Generated Solutions), which used Texprocess to showcase its complete BlueCherry Enterprise Suite for the first time. This includes BlueCherry Shop Floor Control (formerly Leadtec) as well as BlueCherry B2B eCommerce (formerly Threadvine).

BlueCherry Shop Floor Control monitors, tracks and reports on production activities to help increase worker productivity, reduce manufacturing cycle times, improve production balance and labour-related compliance and enhance supply chain visibility. Meanwhile, the BlueCherry B2B eCommerce solution focuses on digital wholesale sales processes for consumer lifestyle brands, and is enhanced through new features including multi-lingual, multi-currency capabilities.

Together, the two products tie in with what business development manager Blake Simms describes as the wider industry need "for a more connected consumer experience and enterprise-wide visibility, both in-house and across the global supply chain from design to production to in-store delivery, to meet broad and fast-moving requirements. "Speed to market is a huge challenge," he adds, along with compliance and cost-control.

Other key business issues are inventory control as retailers continue to squeeze suppliers, along with the need for integrated processes that tackle the problems of omnichannel fulfilment. "People used to have different inventories for different parts of their business (such as catalogues and stores)," Simms explains, adding: "Today there should be one inventory."

Monitoring down to the mill
A new software tool from Setlog offers a solution to the challenge of visibility into the entire apparel and textile supply chain – or "monitoring down to the mill". Its OSCA VCM (vendor compliance management) portal helps brands and retailers view the factories, the sub-contractors, the dye house and the mills making their products. The data is centralised on one platform – and accessed globally – by both in-house teams and supply chain partners.

Supplier information includes factory profiles and production data but also extends to social and ecological standards such as working conditions, the use of chemicals, and fire safety regulations. The tool also makes it easier to compare various manufacturing sites, follow-up on individual audit findings and allows audit documents, reports and corrective actions to be filed in, and stored on, one central location.

The portal is also designed to be an extension of existing ERP or PLM software systems.

Early-stage costing software
The latest software from Methods Workshop is designed to help retailers, brands and manufacturers accurately predict a garment’s labour costs by answering just eight questions about the product – and lets them compare costs across different sourcing locations. The redesigned Quick TruCost v9 (QTC) is designed for early-stage design, product development and pre-production costing. As well as accurately predicting new product costs, it can also be used to manage the cost implications of each pre-production change or addition.

It does this by using information on common construction details to calculate total manufacturing time and labour cost. These might include the number and length of seams, components, match points, bartacks, buttons and buttonholes, and product parts.

Crucially, the product is intended to be used by product development, sourcing, engineering and production teams – and especially by the design department. It also enables manufacturing performance to be benchmarked against global standards.