Having identified that the ability to reproduce, test and control colour data is one of the major issues in the soft goods supply chain, Munich-based Gerber Technology and Color AIXperts of Aachen are to team up in a new sales and marketing initiative.

The alliance between the two companies will provide industry users with a turnkey solution for colour matching and communicating design information by combining Gerber Design System's Artworks Studio with Color AIXperts' software and hardware.

This means that not only will it be possible to accurately reproduce the colours of a textile surface and transmit them digitally, but also apply this coloured fabric onto a 3-dimensional shape (such as a garment) to identify any additional production requirements.

Color AIXperts' system consists of the SpAIXscan, a special camera unit with 16 different colour filters, newly developed software known as SpAIXsoft, and the special reproduction unit, SpAIXview.

Key to its success is 'multispectral' technology, which uses a high resolution CCD camera with spectral filter to record all the spectral light components of an image. Indeed, images of up to 6 million spectral colour measurements can be captured with the SpAIXscan system. This means that on patterned fabrics, all colours can be measured silmltaneously - offering significant benefits over conventional spectral photometers, which can only record a single colour at a time. 

To enable these colours to be converted to defined, reproducible information for all partners provided with the new technology, Color AIXperts has developed a special SpAIX view observer station. The company also uses a process called 'gamut mapping' to enable printers and monitors to display an extended range of colours.

By 'capturing' the spectral distribution of the light source, multispectral technology solves another problem. This is that any light source, such as a department store or daylight, can be simulated on-screen for image reproduction. Metamerics (the effect where two fabrics look the same under one light bu different unders another) can therefore be eliminated.

According to Gerber, enormous time savings in terms of producing garment collections can be made with the new technology. As well as reducing sample production from weeks to days, the new system can also reduce the number of physical samples that need to be produced it says.

Recently, KBC, a weaver and printer from Lomach, Germany, ordered 35 Color AIXperts licenses for colour-matching. Gerber Artworks user Steilmann Group of Germany - the biggest ladies' wear manufacturer in Europe - has also tested the configuration of Color AIXperts in combination with Gerber design tools.