Computer Aided Design is used at various stages in the apparel and textile industry. The fashion design CAD/CAM software can be broadly classified into following categories, each relating to a different design and manufacturing stage.
Categories and manufacturing stages are:
Designing/ Range Planning – before the start of any fashion season, all apparel manufacturers plan the range of garments which they are setting up to manufacture. Most of the designing and range planning is still done by the buyer or the owners of the brand because they are closest to their actual clients; it is easier for them to understand the specific needs of their target market. To some extent, this has now changed with more and more manufacturers allowing vendors to dabble a bit in designing, based on their specific inputs in terms of colors, yarns, fabrics, prints, silhouettes etc.
Prototyping/ Sampling – once the designs have been finalized, a prototype or sample has to be made, because the scalability of the end product (garment) very much depends on the fit of the garment.
In a study conducted by an independent research agency, which monitored and observed the reasons of dissatisfaction or returns of garments sold – fitting problems topped the dissatisfaction list.
Considering the importance of a good fit, it becomes imperative for a manufacturer or retailer to achieve the best fits possible. Considering the complexity involved with different fabrics and silhouettes, a CAD system takes away much of the pain from prototyping thus decreasing the time to market.
Mass Production – comes with its own challenges. Unlike most other products, apparel manufacturing, even today very much depends on people – especially when it comes to tailoring or assembling. A mistake anywhere down the line in the prototyping or cutting process becomes very difficult and often impossible to rectify. This is where a CAD system comes in, to deskill some of the processes involved in mass manufacturing, namely the pre-production processes so that perfectly cut parts are fed to the operators. Additionally, the fabric saved in bulk cutting while using a CAD system is enormous.
Retailing – A 3D solution allows 3D files to be uploaded on to website for clients to choose from. 3D files can be opened and viewed in any MS office application or Internet explorer.