Responding to market demand for innovations to digitally transform product design and development, Centric Software has launched a new 3D Sample Review mobile app that lets users view and comment on samples within a PLM environment.

Developed in partnership with Japanese giant Fast Retailing, the new tool cuts out many steps from the traditional sampling process, helping to reduce time to market and improve the quality of the final product. In addition, photorealistic visualisation of a design concept supports rapid decision-making and greater accuracy in costing, Bills of Material (BOMs) and the manufacturing process.

Fit is a key component of a brand's DNA, yet it is also an enormous challenge for fashion and apparel companies to execute clothing that fits a variety of body shapes, heights and sizes.

With 3D technology gaining in maturity across fashion and retail, businesses are turning to 3D, virtual reality and augmented reality tools to meet rising customer expectations and solve the fit challenge.

The traditional fit review process is one of the most time-consuming and expensive parts of getting a product from the design stage to final production for retail. A live fit model tries on each physical sample in order for it to be perfected by a team of product designers, developers and pattern-makers who take pictures of the garment on the model, direct corrections to one another and make notes.

Back at their desks, photos have to be uploaded to a computer, edited and uploaded again to a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system, and notes have to be typed up or transferred. This process is followed for every sample. In addition, samples are time consuming and expensive to procure and track.

Working with Fast Retailing several years ago, Centric Software introduced the Sample Review mobile app for PLM and dramatically transformed the fit review process of physical samples.

Using a smartphone or tablet, product development teams take photos and add comments in Centric PLM in real time during fit review sessions to reduce rework and save time. Now, Centric has taken this technology a step further with 3D Sample Review mobile app.

"With Centric's 3D Sample Review mobile app, users review digital samples created by 3D vendors or in-house artists in virtual fit scenarios, add comments and receive amended digital samples without leaving the PLM environment," explains Humberto Roa, VP of Innovation at Centric Software.

"These digital assets can be attached to style data and incorporated into active line plans, giving an up-to-date view of where each product is in the sampling and review process."

The most obvious benefit of 3D sampling is that it saves a huge amount of time, money and labor and increases the number of design iterations.

"Making physical samples involves a significant material and labour cost, and typically takes a couple of weeks per iteration," continues Roa. "Inevitably there are changes to be made, another sample is produced, the reviewing cycle continues. It can take months to produce a final sample and begin production whereas with 3D, design and fit iterations are quick – thus more design proposals can be reviewed prior to go to market."