TECHNOLOGY: Big News in 3D Design & Fabrics

Dancing like the wind or standing in a simple halter shift. Both show the importance of drape & modeling in 3D.  (Courtesy https://browzwear.com/products/v-stitcher/)

Could This be the Key to Bringing Manufacturing Back Home?

If you are a faithful University of Fashion blog-reader, then you know that we’re BIG proponents of preserving the art & craft of fashion design through our vast library of hands-on lessons, lectures and computer design lessons. Since our launch in 2013 we now have 500 videos from which anyone can learn. And learn they do. We are proud to say that tens of thousands of students, teachers and aspiring designers from 144 countries are actively using our site, a 45% increase over last year, mainly due to Covid-19 and the switch to distance learning classes at many schools.

Another reason we started UoF was to promote domestic manufacturing, with a special focus on sustainability. Thankfully, here in the U.S., we are seeing more and more companies bringing their production back home. And in many cases it’s upstart designers who are leading the pack.

 

3D Design, Fabrics and Materials

We also believe that 3D design software will be a major factor in helping us reach our goals of a greener planet by making less samples and by pre-selling clothing and accessories from 3D avatars on a computer, iPad, phone and/or from a virtual runway show.

As you may have read in our past blogposts, 3D Revolution in the Fashion Industry, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Fashion and Augmented Reality (AI) for Fashion Retail, 3D is fast becoming the future of fashion.

However, one of the biggest hurdles with 3D design software has been the ability to capture the realisticdrape of different types of fabrics and a limited fabric library to choose and design from. Well, we are happy to report…the times, they are a changin’

Of the several 3D software and scanning providers out there, this blog post will focus on advances by Browzwear (one of the providers of 3D software noted in the UoF 3D series) and Vizoo (a provider for scanning and digitizing materials), and on key developments in their partnership.

 

Browzwear’s and Vizoo’s Announcement

Browzwear has extended its partnership with Vizoo and is taking it a step further. The raw physical data, extracted by the Fabric Analyzer by Browzwear (FAB), can be utilized in VStitcher and combined with U3M software from Vizoo. The U3M data from Vizoo contains color and texture information about the material or fabric. The main differentiation in this release is the ability to extract raw data from FAB, in addition to material standardization. The software file format is a new open source file format called U3M Version 1.1.  Therefore, it allows for the combination of visual and physical material information in one source.

Browzwear and Vizoo have committed to being open source platforms, which creates visual alignment across different applications and is a key development for the industry.  For an industry not known for working together and only sharing in-house, this could change the industry and ultimately benefit customers.

Browzwear has created a growing ecosystem of partners to input assets (scanning, avatars), workflow management (PLM) and output data (merchandising, rendering, animations). Vizoo is in discussions with other 3D CAD providers on how to read FAB data and extract measurements.

Vizoo and other scanning companies will scan materials for their customers or provide rental of their scanners to increase access to material scanning across the industry.

 

Why is Material Modeling So Important?

(Image Courtesy: Material Exchange)                                      (Image Courtesy: Swatchbook)

The next frontier in 3D design is to understand and model materials. For designers to truly embrace 3D, the garments on the avatars need to closely emulate the fabrics in real life. Fabrics are considered a subset of materials. Going beyond the color and texture of the fabric, to capture the soft physics of the fabric, allows for the designer’s vision to be truly communicated and gives the designer confidence on their creations in the 3D visualization. The key soft physics of the fabrics include the stretching and bending properties, which are in part dependent upon fabric thickness.

Current travel restrictions have disrupted the industry and changed how business is done. For material suppliers, a digital representation of their fabrics will be key in communicating with brands and designers. Global digital databases are becoming key resources for brands and designers, such as the Material Exchange and Swatchbook, which include not only the physical material information, but also the attributes needed in PLM systems. The digital representations will not replace the actual touch and feel of fabric but will reduce the need to send multiple fabric samples before candidates are finally chosen.

 

Two Main Types of Material Scanners

Scanning of materials or fabrics for 3D CAD can be divided into two main categories:  scans for color and material texture, and another for physical properties that capture how a material will drape.

 

Color Scans

Color scans are rendered using different techniques of computer graphics. The goal is to render a photorealistic simulation. To do this, one needs to accurately model the flow of light in the real world. Some of the qualities of the material that impact the flow of light include: diffuse color (or base color), specular color (reflected highlights), roughness of the material, or transparency of the material (solid or like glass). These values can be impacted by material type, such as organics (hair, fur, skin texture), metals or very shiny materials, transparent materials, or plastics. The lighting selected will also impact the rendering – ambient light, full sunlight, and lighting at various angles.

Samples of Materials available for download on the U3M website, on the left (Houndstooth), on the right (Big Knit Jacquard). There is even a black glossy leather sample for review. (Images Courtesy: https://www.u3m.info/)

 

What Exactly is Soft Physics?

Soft physics is a field of computer graphics that focuses on visually realistic simulations of materials that are easily deformed. Materials such as gels and fabrics, retain their shape after use, but will change while being worn through draping, gathering, bunching, etc. Therefore, to fully model the material in 3D, the stretch and bend of the fabric needs to be understood. A good example is the difference between silk or cotton or sketch fabrics. In other words, 3D simulations need to capture how the finished garment will react to the chosen fabric.

 

Cotton Incorporated Launches New 3D Fabrics

(Image Courtesy: https://www.cottoninc.com/quality-products/fabrics/fabricast-collections/)

In August 2020 Cotton Incorporated’s CottonWorks , announced the launch of 3D downloadable digital files, taking cotton apparel design to the next level. The FABRICAST  collection offers designers and product developers working with two popular design programs, Browzwear and CLO, access to inspirational and inventive cotton and cotton-rich fabrics for the collaborative design process.

Cotton digital fabric files can be downloaded for CLO and Browzwear programs at  cottonworks.com, the cotton resource for textile professionals. CottonWorks  is a go-to textile tool for discovering what’s possible with cotton. From fiber and manufacturing education to sustainability facts to fabric inspiration and trend forecasting, cottonworks.com has the resources the industry needs to stay in motion.

Cotton Incorporated’s CottonWorks , a resource for textile professionals, launches 3D downloadable digital files, taking cotton apparel design to the next level. The FABRICAST  collection offers designers and product developers working with two popular design programs access to inspirational and inventive cotton and cotton-rich fabrics for the collaborative design process.

According to Cotton Inc., “The work-at-home environment, this year, propelled many companies to search for more digital solutions in all aspects of the business including the already emerging 3D design programs.”

And Krista Schreiber, a veteran industry designer and digital supply chain consultant, stated that “3D technology offers a great solution for digital design, fit, merchandising, and marketing. When you connect that digitally with sourcing and manufacturing, we have a winning combination for the apparel industry.

 

For the Textile Geeks

A detailed discussion, The Measurement of Fabric Properties for Virtual Simulation – A critical review, is available on the IEEE 3D Body Processing Industry Connections site. This paper compares six different fabric physics measuring systems: Kawabata Evaluation System (KES), Fabric Assurance by Simple Testing (FAST), Fabric Touch Tester (FTT), CLO Fabric Kit 2.0, Fabric Analyzer by Browzwear (FAB), and Optitex Mark 10. It was published February 2020. The focus of the paper is on the hardware and raw physics results. Authors are from Amsterdam Fashion Institute, Netherlands; University of Art and Design Linz, Austria; and University of Manchester, UK.

In summary, the future of materials is digital and will play an important role in the 3D ecosystem.  Are you ready?

 

 

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Carol McDonald

Carol McDonald

Carol McDonald is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She, along with her husband, are owners of Gneiss Concept, a consultancy that focuses on mass customization of footwear and apparel manufacturing. She has over 30 years of experience in Manufacturing and Sustaining Engineering covering Consumer products (Starbucks, Intermec, Microsoft), Medical equipment (Physio Control), Testing equipment (Fluke Networks), Fitness products (Precor) and Design Innovation (PNNL). She has attended Shoe School in Port Townsend, Washington and Modo software training at Pensole, Portland, Oregon. Carol McDonald graduated from University of Washington, Bothell, in Electrical Engineering (B.S.), from Oregon State University in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.), from University of Oregon in Mathematics (B.S.). Carol McDonald is co-chair of IEEE 3D Body Processing Industry Connections Group which brings together diverse stakeholders from across technology, retail, research and standards development to build thought leadership around 3D body processing technology standard, https://standards.ieee.org/industry-connections/3d/bodyprocessing.html Her three grown children are involved in STEM fields ranging from distributed power generation engineering, a High School science teacher, and computer programming. She enjoys family ski trips, adult rec soccer and quilting.