The successful implementation of 3D design and prototyping tools requires a change of mindset around training and staff roles, industry experts say
A key challenge for designers is to think and design in virtual 3D from the very start of their process, while becoming familiar with the technical implications and requirements for their 3D models if they may be applied further downstream in the organisation.
“In a sense, the designer of the future has to be a concept artist, pattern maker and 3D artist combined,” says Joost Alferdinck, chief product officer at PixelPool.
Catherine Cole, CEO of MOTIF, a knowledge hub and e-learning platform launched by Alvanon in 2018, stresses that in order to successfully adopt 3D technology, clothing brands and manufacturers should first take a step back and “focus on the ‘why’ of digital transformation.”
She explains that “understanding what 3D solves positions companies to start thinking more strategically about 3D virtual design, fit and prototyping. It then becomes easier to identify the areas of opportunity and the teams that will pilot specific proof of concept projects.”
Savannah Crawford, chief collaborator at fashion technology company Tukatech, says another option is for a 3D sample maker to work with a digital pattern maker, “similar to the way pattern makers and sample makers worked together when everything was in-house.”
Reaping the rewards
Ron Watson, VP product at Centric Software, notes that Centric PLM offers new “3D visualisation enhancements that can be used with or without a connection to a 3D CAD solution, even for users not specifically trained in the art of 3D development.”
Another consideration is how much work can be reshored and to what extent it can be undertaken at outsourcing locations overseas. Cole says that because the Alvanon Body Platform provides the ability to approve fit and grading across a whole size range at one time, eliminating the need for physical size set samples, it has “led the way to more accountability being managed by offshore or regional teams.”
Training for the future
Looking further ahead, training of the next generation of industry professionals is also vital. “The most important aspect of bridging the talent gap is in partnering with fashion colleges and university programmes,” according to Crawford. She says students need to either learn how to create 3D samples, or become familiar with analysing 3D samples. “In either case, they are ready to add value upon graduation, and will not require the same shift in mindset required of those who have been in the industry for years.”
PixelPool’s Alferdinck notes that graduates are now more able to embrace the changing role of the designer, as “more and more fashion design schools are including 3D design as a part of their curriculum.”