How 3D is helping fashion brands accelerate fabrication
The fabrication of garments is the most labor and cost intensive part of the process.
Cheap labor isn't cheap any more. Sewing workshops all over China and the rest of southeast Asia are closing down. While the contract labor segment in India continues to raise, customer demand for custom garments is slowly eroding the mass-production profitability of these firms.
Just as technology in the form of 3D design and patterning is accelerating the concept-to-pattern stage of the process, new advances in automated printing, cutting and sewing are poise to evolve the final stages of the process.
This article will focus on the production aspects of the process
Automated computer numerical controlled (CNC) cutters from companies like Gerber, Eastmand and Zund have been available and in use in the fashion industry for decades. Relatively new in the market is the use of Dye Sublimation Fabric and Leather printer/cutters. These tools like the offerings from Mimaki enable designers to not only cut the pattern pieces but to define specific graphics on each garment and to print them on-demand.
Automated sewing machines
Automatic sewing and ultrasonic welding machines provide garment manufacturers with new ways to streamline the cut and sew steps. These tools consume the output from digital patterning software and can be used to enable virtually hands-free production.
While this final stage automation is not quite ready for broad adoption the tools and processes are advancing rapidly.
Automation doesn't need to mean a lost of jobs. Effective investment and management has proven to be the key to integrating both design and manufacturing automation into existing workplaces and actually increasing employment. The true key to success is in understanding how, where and when to add these solutions.
Mark Jewell (CTO) and Eaton Donald (CEO) of ExactFlat will be at Texprocess 2018, the industry trade event focused on the effective implementation of technology. Click on the link below to schedule a time to meet and discuss ways that ExactFlat can help your business with your automation initiatives.