Next generation creative apparel design and image based costing
One of my closest friends within the PLM industry, Prasham Kamdar called round to my home last week whilst on an extended trip from India and USA and as sad at it may sound, we quickly got onto our favourite subject of PLM!
So we quickly started talking about what was new in the world of PLM and I touched on the subject of the first ever independent PLM survey that we have been compiling and will soon be available for publication (but I will go into more detail on this subject in another blog soon).
I then told him of a new development that the team and I have been working on over the last 14 months and after I described what we had been working on he suggested that I write a blog and to share it with the WhichPLM readers, so here we go…
We often hear it said that it’s very difficult to get designers to use PLM and sometimes I can understand their reticence, when the creative design tools like Illustrator are somewhat removed from the PLM solution and the versions are somewhat out of date. However, today there are several pioneering PLM solution suppliers that have made steady progress in linking their PLM solutions to Adobe Illustrator, to the extent that some offer designers the choice to login to Adobe Illustrator, complete their creative designs and then save them directly from A.I. into the PLM solution. Even further advanced PLM solutions can also manage colour pallets that can be restricted by security from within the PLM solution to avoid designers developing colours that have not been approved by the brand and/or department. Currently the most advance form of integration allows designers to build the first level Tech Pack directly within A.I. and then send to the PLM system, populating various images/meta data on a save command.
So what’s next when it comes to improving the creative design process…
Well for the last 14 months, the team and I have been developing a library of what we like to call “Smart Apparel ClipArt” garment products that have been drawn with great care and attention to detail. At the early stage of the process we worked alongside the engineers from GSD (General Sewing Data) to define a set of high quality standards of drawing garment products and features including parts e.g. collars, cuffs, plackets, button holes, and buttons etc. Today we have created a library of over 10,000 products and parts which include a tremendous amount of microscopic detail, like buttons over button holes, single needle versus twin needle components. The library contains a massive list of products that include most apparel product types found on the market from fashion to classic styles.
We understand that to get designers to use A.I. effectively with or without PLM we would need to make the process simpler, faster and extremely efficient and to add to that we would have to develop a complete library of thousands of products and parts, to enable designers plenty of choice to develop a massive variety of new products.
So we got to work and very carefully we have developed a family of “Avatars” including men, women, young adults and children that have all the correct relative dimensions and that will enable designers to use products and parts i.e. different fronts, backs, sleeves, pockets, collars etc., that all fit to the avatars with a few simple clicks making it very easy to develop new style variations that much faster and with a great level of accuracy to help other people within the product development process become much more efficient.
I am pleased to say that the solution is nearing completion and has been developed as an Adobe plug-in, allowing users to work directly within A.I. linking to the “smart parts library” to enable more efficient creative designing and at the same time linking directly in to their PLM solution of choice, so that the images can be used across the multiple processes that exist in PLM.
Furthermore, we have developed a product and parts based meta data functionality that allows designers to attach data to an image for example material type, usage, value or even the time taken to complete the sewing operation which will enable graphical costing’s.
17 August, 2010
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Mark Harrop is a leading Apparel PLM expert with more than 34 years experience in the industry. Mark co-founded the Product Development Partnership Ltd, the team of experts behind WhichPLM.