Reduce Sample Development Cost and Sample Lead Time by 3D Avatars

Its time to shift to 3D virtual garment technology to minimize the sample development cost and to reduce the sample lead time. The technology is called as 3D virtual prototyping of clothing products.

3D virtual prototyping
Image source: Tukatech via Youtube

One of the biggest challenges faced by apparel manufactures is getting development samples done on time. Failing to do so result in many setbacks to the companies. Samples are used for various decision making steps. At early stages of development, samples are looked at to decide possible manufacture. Based on the samples received by each company, buyers will decide which company has the best handwriting. Even if they find a company has quoted a better price but the sample is not arrived on time, buyer most probably decides to go with the company which has sent the sample on time.

Also development samples used in range selection meetings and salesman samples. If the samples not reached buyers on time, naturally the manufacture loose out the orders. Developing samples and sending on time ensure continuous orders.

Developing samples is a costly business. In most cases, fabric mills charge for the sample yardage. If the mill is not a regular source, they may even ask to pay minimum charges, increasing the development cost. As we know buyers always want to see samples in several different colorways and few different fabric options. Getting the fabrics and trims on time, making them and couriering is a significant task and a cost to the company.

Recent developments in 3D technology, CAD systems and rapidly evolving computer graphics technology is providing an alternative solution to the sample making process. Leading companies like Adidas and Nike already using this technology to minimize the development cost and reduce the lead time.

If we try to understand what purpose samples provide, the main reason for the development samples are to understand the designs, styling details, range compatibility, hand feel, measurements, colour combos and drape. Using 3D avatar’s companies can avoid making multiple samples in all colorways. Making one or few samples from the actual fabric would satisfy the buyers on hand feel and the drape. Rest of the collection can be created using 3D virtual garment technology as it can satisfy all other need for samples. When trying out new design concepts and ideas, 3D virtual garment technology provide a fast and accurate interpretation of the samples.

3D avatar can be customized to each buyer's measurement specifications to reflect the fit. Further, creating samples on 3D avatar gives a good understanding on how the fabric is draped on the body and what areas need attention. Files can be sent between buyers and development teams as 2D or 3D so real time discussion can be conducted and changes can be applied at the same time. These attributes saves not only cost but lead time giving the company a competitive advantage over other manufacturers.

About the Author: Charm Rammandala is the founder & CEO of IStrategy USA. He counts over two decades in fashion supply chain in diverse roles as Lean Manager and Model himself. He is an expert in rolling out programs in Lean apparel manufacturing and Sustainable labour costing. His former positions included being the first Lean Technologist at George Sourcing Services UK Ltd.
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