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Enterprise 3D: an education

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In this report our Editor, Lydia Hanson, comments on a recent visit WhichPLM made to the University of Huddersfield. This came not long after a trip to Manchester Metropolitan University in February 2016.

WhichPLM has made regular visits to the University of Huddersfield for the best part of two years; our CEO has spent time participating in guest lectures spanning a range of topics – topics linked to PLM for fashion, 3D and, now, the ‘Internet of Things’.

On the first day of this month, Mark Harrop returned to UoH to catch-up with second year students on the fashion course.

The Department of Fashion and Textiles at UoH aims to be recognized as a global area of excellence in fashion/textile teaching and learning, technology, innovation and research. It presents opportunities for the two closely related disciplines to develop and work closely together. This includes the fusion of staff and spreading of skills and specialist knowledge in the exciting development of courses, modules, projects, research and enterprise.

The department has achieved recognition for its merging of traditional technologies with new and digital technology – something WhichPLM is an advocate for – and aims to maintain this reputation as well as being recognized for excellence in making, craft, skill and business, promotion and marketing.

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Having covered PLM at the university a handful of times already, Mark’s most recent guest lecture focused on ‘Enterprise 3D’. Mark examined the use of 3D technologies operating across a broad range of merchandise and, at the same time, across the entire supply chain. He began by looking back over the last decade and a half (of which he’s been involved in 3D) for the fashion sector, and even further back to the use of 3D in other industries such as aerospace, automotive and medicine.

He made the point that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to 3D; there is no one solution that can support the needs of a typical retailer, brand or manufacturer. He used the illustration above [originally featured in WhichPLM’s 5th Edition Report] to point to the various product types that are now benefitting from the use of 3D in design and manufacturing.

Mark continued to share the origins of 3D for fashion. With 3D having begun in the footwear sector, he shared his own experience of working on 3D last designs in the mid-80s. Microdynamics – an American technology company employing Mark some decades ago – designed and sold a range of FDS (Footwear Design Solutions), including the first footwear CAD systems for creative design and texture mapping; and 2D pattern design systems, followed by 3D last and heal design solutions.

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As well as the image above, WhichPLM has been supplied with some fantastic resources for the purposes of spreading the story of 3D for fashion which, as this lecture continued, began for apparel in the late 1990s with companies like Browzwear and Optitex.

Mark shared the technological challenges during the ‘90s, and the maturity (or lack thereof) of the solutions and the limitations of hardware and memory. These factors prevented most businesses from adopting 3D solutions – those that did were retail/brand technology leaders with the vision of (and cash to invest in) the future of 3D.

Bringing the pitch back to the present, Mark examined many of the challenges and benefits of using and implementing 3D solutions today. He used several true examples of best practice ‘use cases’. He emphasized how crucial it is for a company to look at a 3D project with as much enthusiasm and importance as they would an ERP or PLM project. Today, 3D touches a myriad of different product types, departments and processes (apparel, handbags, footwear, jewellery, watches, consumer electronics and wearables) operating across the entire supply chain. Mark gave real examples linked to areas including creative design, merchandising, synthetic costing, sustainability, near-shoring, CGI (computer generated images), 3D in marketing, supporting mass customization and configuration, and 24 hour sampling.

Mark concluded by sharing his thoughts on what to expect in the not-too-distant future. He used examples of how we can expect to see CGI, Virtual and Augmented reality within retailers, brands and manufactures, in creative design, product development and procurement of apparel.

What followed was what could only be described as a lengthy Q&A session; due to the interest coming from the students this session was detailed and thorough. That interest stems from previous WhichPLM guest lectures, and completion of the WhichPLM Academy bronze tier. In fact, several students were presented with their WhichPLM Academy certifications following the lecture.

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And it wasn’t just the students who had something to smile about. Jo Conlon [pictured farthest right], Senior Lecturer in Fashion & Textiles, has completed the entire course and was presented with her gold level certification. Jo has been taking the WhichPLM Academy course in recent months, and is the first lecturer to have completed and passed every exam. She shared with us her thoughts on the course, “By participating in the WhichPLM Academy you benefit from a unique learning experience that has been carefully and generously developed to empower you with a depth of understanding that you can only gain from true experts.  I particularly like that it is designed for the RFA sector and is future-focussed.”

It’s easy to see the quality of understanding of PLM from her students; it is apparent that they are all benefitting from her enthusiasm for the subject of PLM and 3D and now the new interest in the IoT and how it will help to transform our industry.

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*The images used within the tablets in this article are copyright Romans CAD, & Julien Fournié for Dassault Systèmes.

Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for over six years now. She has a creative and media background, and is responsible for maintaining and updating our website content, liaising with advertisers, working on special projects like the Annual Review, and more.Joining mid-2013 as our Online Editor, she has since become WhichPLM’s Editor. In addition to taking on writing and interviewing responsibilities, Lydia has also become the primary point of contact for news, events, features and other aspects of our ever-growing online content library and tools.