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Knitting / Apparel

Reshaping The Apparel Industry

Digital imaging, electronic color matching are in the spotlight at high-tech show.

Reshaping The Apparel Industry Digital imaging, electronic color matching are in the spotlight at high-tech show.Bobbin Americas 2000, held September 13-15 at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, focused on mass customization and digital tech-nologies that offer the sewn products industry the opportunity to reshape its business horizon. In addition, the show presented a host of network solutions, new product premieres and educational events.A new feature of the exposition, according to Margaret Crow, Bobbin Americas 2000 director of marketing, was The Digital Zone, with exhibits and interactive digital production displays. The show also featured a Production Sourcing Expo, a Fabric Sourcing Expo and a complete seminar program.

The shows Digital Zone, which was created and co-produced by the Cary, N.C.-based TextileandClothing Technology Corp. ([TC]2), Bobbin Americas sponsor Miller Freeman, and 15 high-technology exhibitors, offered a look into the future of the sewn products industry.[TC]2, a not-for-profit organi-zation supporting the apparel industry, announced the formation of ImageTwin Inc., a joint venture with Truefinds.com Inc., a preferred stock subsidiary of Konover Property Trust, Cary, N.C. The venture is the first Web-enabled 3-D digital body-scanning and measurement system. The technology is designed to provide a definitive solution for accurate apparel sizing for online, catalog and bricks-and-mortar shopping.ImageTwin is the culmination of a nine-year development effort that resulted in a safe, white-light scanning process that generates extremely accurate measurements in less than 12 seconds. ImageTwins in-store scanning station instantly captures more than 200,000 data points of an individuals image, compiling a full 3-D representation of his or her body. Proprietary software, in turn, automatically extracts dozens of sizing measurements that can be used to create a perfect custom-fit garment or predict the appropriate size of existing ready-to-wear clothing.The ImageTwin is part of [TC]2s overall strategy in developing a more efficient apparel supply chain by increasing forecasting accuracy and reducing merchandise returns, said Peter N. Butenhoff, president, [TC]2. [TC]2 also presented interactive exhibits, demonstrating the power of integrated digital technologies in the sewn products supply chain. There was also an opportunity to take a look at mass customization and virtual try-ons, as well as digital fabric printing, all of which could become more and more a part of everyday life.Customized Garments
At Gerber Technology, Tolland, Conn., also in The Digital Zone, Deborah Marconi, manager, public relations, pointed to several products that will help manufacturers create customized garments quickly.The individuals preferences as to style, color, size and fit are translated into a unique garment. With such tools, manufacturers receive an order, generate patterns and markers, and can digitally present the final product in minutes. Also, these tools eliminate the use of paper, reduce the potential for inaccuracies, decrease turnaround times, and allow manufacturers to realize greater profitability and repeat business.With Gerbers Made-to-Measure (M-T-M) software, a garment is custom-made to the buyers preference. Manufacturers receive orders automatically through mainframe, modem or internet connection, and M-T-M then creates the patterns and automatically makes a marker. This facilitates the all-important quick turnaround.In addition, Marconi said Gerbers new, automated plaid/stripe matching system, InVision, delivers thread-to-thread accuracy and is now available from Gerber Technologies on its GTxL GERBERcutter. The units multitasking operating system carries out matching and cutting operations simultaneously for optimum productivity in the cutting room.InVision improves productivity by completely automating the matching process, thus removing errors. It makes matching and cutting plaid and stripe fabrics as easy as cutting solid fabrics, eliminating errors when using manual or semi-automated matching processes.InVision contains an advanced camera and optics system to enable the operator to zoom in on critical areas for added precision. In addition, its state-of-the-art lighting system and imaging techniques achieve precise matching even through a plastic overlay. The system also cuts as it matches.E-Business Solutions
Paris-based Lectra Systs offered its new e-business product that combines CAD/CAM, virtual reality and the Internet to enable customers to create, manufacture and sell their products in a fully electronic way, capitalizing on both their existing organization and new technologies.The LectraOnline portal, launched in October, provides customers with online professional services and facilitates secure data exchange between principals, subcontractors, textile companies and retailers.Also on exhibit was the Lectra FitNet, which creates a virtual 3-D double of a person in 20 seconds thanks to its partnership with Tecmath, a German company specializing in computer simulation of the human body. One can dress the 3-D double with a garment that is the right size and personalized to suit the persons tastes, cut the garment in less than four minutes, and manufacture it in under four hours.This procedure, with Lectras new 3-D virtual design technologies, enables mastery of the way fabric behaves and faithful reproduction of its draping.The LectraOnline portal will allow Lectra group customers to create garments automatically in 3-D on the Web using existing models. During 2001, websurfers will be able to try clothes on their own virtual mannequin, choose the right size or have the clothes altered to suit measurements and styles.Lectra Systs is also involved in CAD/CAM systems for the upholstery industry, which is being revolutionized by the new all digital model of design, as well as manufacturing solutions that guarantee improved cut quality to the millimeter.The company incorporates all the links in the chain with global, integrated CAD/CAM solutions that cover the whole textile process, from basic materials to finished product in the upholstery industry.These solutions take in the full cycle, starting from the virtual design of yarn and fabric and continuing through 3-D, CAD systems and collection management; digital fabric printing for prototypes; automated fabric and leather cutting; computerized technical data exchange; right up to virtual merchandising.Maureen Kelly, marketing manager, Datacolor International, Lawrenceville, N.J., said that though everyone is talking about communicating color, Datacolor is delivering it. With the companys Colorite program, one can communicate exact colors electronically. Everything is calibrated, including print, for true-color output. Kelly said Datacolors software instruments and services are designed to save time throughout the entire color development process.The Colorite Studios offer an optimal viewing area for the Colorite program, which is said to be an integral part of a revolutionary new Color Information Management System (CIMS). CIMS is Datacolors complete computerized environment for color measuring, matching, quality control and communication.Thus, designers, colorant suppliers, and production staff can see and communicate color digitally, eliminating the need to mail color samples between locations and cutting the cost of samples and development time in half. These advantages allow companies to move rapidly with production, delivering products with savings in administrative costs.  Editor's Note: Diane and Bob Wanger are freelance writers based in Nashua, N.H.

November 2000