Can you tell us a little bit about your company’s role in helping your clients achieve their business goals?
AMATEC AS is a service company that specializes in supplying equipment and expertise to the textile industry. We are active on a daily basis in our efforts to acquire, develop and disseminate the best and most up-to-date design and manufacturing knowledge to our clients.
We continuously adapt our product and services to the rapidly changing needs of our community of manufacturers. This helps us ensure that we’re able to assist them with whatever types of technical expertise and training they require to succeed.
The furniture business is changing. Customized pieces that include a large component of high concept style and design are finding their way into more and more homes and businesses. For this article, we interviewed Margit Karin Aarset, Senior member of the team at AMATEC AS to understand how their clients are utilizing digital design and patterning to address these requirements.
What is your client’s typical design-to-manufacturing process?
It varies considerably from client to client, but a few themes appear to be consistent:
- Create a physical prototype of the piece at something less than full scale
- Scan the prototype to get a 3D file
- Edit the 3D file in the CAD tool, then output a full size, pre-production prototype
- Use the drape-and-tape method to create the initial 2D patterns
- Digitize the initial patterns into Gerber AccuMark 2D and add pattern features
- Iterate on the pattern until it's right (Cut, Sew, Fit Test, Repeat)
Why have they decided to change/enhance their process?
It comes down to time, cost, and the ability to create truly innovative designs. The legacy process limits them in several steps because of the manual effort involved. In a recent case, our client completed a couple of prototypes and then decided -- for aesthetic reasons and based on initial client feedback -- that they needed a design change. That meant they basically had to start over. There’s only so much of that that they can do and still stay competitive.
What led you to believe that digital patterning could help them improve their process and/or profitability?
By using ExactFlat in conjunction with AccuMark, our clients are looking at saving days and sometimes even weeks in the production process. In one case, we were able to quickly demonstrate the advantages of the digital patterning process:
- We cut about 2 days of drafting effort and about a week of “waiting” since the initial patterns were created directly from the 3D file that’s already used to create the full scale prototype.
- We eliminated all of the time they used to spend creating draft patterns with the “tape and drape” process since we can create patterns directly from the 3D model.
- We also removed the digitizing effort and potential errors that used to occur when converting the draft patterns to DXF for use in the cutter software.
The digital pattern files created with ExactFlat were excellent; better in some areas than the digitized drafts. And we were able to import them directly into AccuMark where we added pattern features like seams and notches before moving on to production.
What surprised you and/or your client about the digital patterning process?
Again, it’s different with each account but there were two things that stood out -- flexibility and simplicity.
In some cases the design and technical patterning teams are different people, maybe even at different sites. YuniquePLM helps manage the collaboration but sometimes important information like seam location or material type are left out.
With ExactFlat we were able to make some assumptions and keep the process moving forward. The resulting patterns were amazingly accurate. Just a little tweaking in AccuMark and we were ready to cut.
The other pleasant surprise was in the way that the digital process fit seamlessly into the client’s existing workflow.
- Start with the 3D model (which they already had)
- Generate the pattern with ExactFlat (which took about 15 minutes)
- Add pattern features and produce a final cutter-ready marker with AccuMark (Which they were already doing. Now it just happens 5 to 10 times sooner.)
Any final comments you want to share?
I have been in this business for almost 20 years. One of the most important things that I’ve learned in that time is that you have to find ways to “future-proof” your business. An example of this is adding new technologies and process like the transition to digital patterning that we’re seeing more and more of these days. The effort to get started is nominal and the benefits are dramatic.