CAD software is the new black
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How To Top Categories Computers Home Entertainment Internet Phones Photography Security Tablets ForumsLog In to CNET Join When you think of computer aided manufacturing, sexy lingerie is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But since the 1990s, fashion companies, including those that make delicates, have been employing the kinds of computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing, or CAD/CAM, software previously reserved for architects, designers, and engineers.
While pin bearing seamstresses and mannequins are still used Suede Boulima 160mm for couture, the maker of clothing bought off the rack is more likely a piece of software.
The recent introductions of artificial intelligence, better animation, and lifelike avatars are helping fashion companies, faced with increasing demands, to more quickly translate 3D visions into 2D materials.
Teenagers are demanding cheap "fast fashion" to go with their fast food, and there are now six or eight fashion "seasons" put out by some clothing lines that look to bring new clothes into stores every two months, said Holly Beum, director of software product management at Gerber Technology, a subsidiary of the publicly traded Connecticut based company Gerber Scientific.
"We even call our product life cycle management software 'fashion life cycle management' because fashion differs from every other industry, in that we'll have six seasons in a year with thousands of products," Beum said. "If you're building an airplane, Black Suede Boulima 160mm you have one product that takes most of a decade (to design). How many prototypes of an airplane are you really going to make?"
There are two leading companies offering software in this area. Gerber, originally known for its cutter textile machines, lists such clients as Gap, Liz Claiborne, Levi's, Carter's, Sears, Abercrombie Fitch, and OshKosh. Lectra is a Paris based company whose clients include Benetton, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Dolce Gabbana, Fruit of the Loom, Eddie Bauer, and Gucci.
Lectra and Gerber each offers modular software packages, designed to meet specific fashion industry needs, Brown Suede Boulima 160mm that generally range between about $3,000 and $20,000 per seat depending on what modules are included. Both companies offer programs that focus on design, 3D prototyping, pattern making, size grading, nesting of the pattern pieces to maximize use of materials, and integration with automated textile cutting machines.
"The smaller the organization, the more the person is required to do multiple things and use multiple or many of the pieces of software," said Jerry Inman, vice president of marketing for Lectra.
The software lets companies offer buyers more realistic previews on virtual models before things go into prototyping or production. And fashion engineering even extends into the marketing and brand creation side of the business.
Lectra, for example, in March released Kaledo 3D Trend, an application it developed with Microsoft to work on the Vista operating system. It allows designers to create 3D animated storyboards from their designs complete with virtual models, photos, audio, and video. The company gives Kaledo
3D Trend away for free, and has seen a lot of interest from fashion design students.
Gerber offers V Stitcher, a module for its AccuMark CAD program that lets designers evaluate how a piece of clothing will fit on a person by using virtual models. Since the artificial intelligence in White Suede Boulima 160mm pattern making software requires only the input of measurements, not information on how the garment is to be constructed, manufacturers are free to have their clothes made by labor anywhere in the world, Beum said.
"For example, a pattern development system with the most recent AI will insure that if you have a seam, that the two edges that go into that seam are at 180 degrees," she said.
Other software applications, such as Gerber's Vision Fashion Studio, allow a designer to create original fabric knits or weaves. They then convert that information into direct instructions for a textile mill. The software even accepts scanned fabric images from which to start a new design.
Such fashion specific software is also helpful when it comes to grading, the process in which a clothing manufacturer creates a specific pattern for each size. While grading is based on a company's size standards, the programs help account for sizing systems and body types that differ from one country to the next.
Lectra and Gerber also have fashion industry specific nesting software. Nesting, as in any CAM program, determines how best to lay out the parts in order to minimize waste of material.