Texprocess Americas 2014

The Texprocess Americas event in Atlanta, GA May 13-15 attracted a broad audience with three venues – Texprocess Americas, Techtextil and JEC Composites. Over 750 exhibitors entertained 9,000+ visitors during the three day event.

[TC]² hosted the Cool Zone showcasing current and future leading edge technologies.  Participants in the Cool Zone included:  AM4U, with its PAM (purchase activated manufacturing) business model; Baxter, the robot, demonstrating its application for repetitive work tasks; Browzwear, 3D solutions for the fashion industry; Gerber Technology’s Mobile Design Suite using a Microsoft tablet; Henderson’s Sewing’s robotic sewer; iStyling virtual dressing and style/fit applications for retail; SoftWear Automation showing robotic sewing capabilities; Styku with an ultra-portable scanning technology; and a VEIT shirt dryer and press. Sponsors of the Cool Zone were American & Efird supplying thread and Schmetz providing sewing needles which were part of the Baxter robotic demonstration.

An opening night networking reception was held by SPESA at the Georgia Aquarium with over 500 in attendance.

[TC]² staff members participated in or moderated a number of panels during the educational symposium.  A brief description of some of these programs follow.

Design and Product Development Technologies Symposium

Panel: Moderator – Anton Wilson, [TC]2; Presenters – Yoram Burg, OptiTex; Luis Velasquez, Lectra; and Elizabeth White, [TC]²

The goal of this symposium was to enable participants to automate and optimize product design, development, and manufacturing processes.  The session specifically dealt with digital tools.  Each presenter approached the topic from a different angle.  This led to great conversation by three very knowledgeable companies, each with very strong brand recognition and expertise around this topic.

Yoram spoke about the differences between the old and new ways of working.  He emphasized how innovation, speed, and execution are impacting product development because of the new methods.  He included a personal experience with an older generation of phone compared with a new smartphone.

Luis covered the role of design and stressed how new tools for collaboration can affect the influence of design throughout company processes.  In the past, design often handed off its work and wasn’t connected to further development and manufacturing.  New tools strengthen that collaboration with additional connections.

Elizabeth highlighted the ways that new technologies are being used to better meet customer expectations of fit, styling, and cost.  The new tools are often configured differently than old tools so the processing steps are not exactly the same as previous ones.  For example, body scanning can output both measurements and 3D avatars.  Those outputs can be used in manual or CAD patternmaking, alterations, and 3D virtual fit applications.  Before the development of body scanning, product development worked from either measurements to draft patterns or fit models (or forms) to drape patterns.  CAD tools allow both outputs to be used concurrently and to be connected by fitting a drafted pattern onto a fit avatar.

A sometimes overlooked piece of technology is having the right body for evaluating the fit of your apparel products.  The body used for fit should be based on the demographics of your customer base, including age and economic status.  Using this data allows you to develop avatars which provide the basis for 3-D modeling and sampling, which, in turn, allows for rapid and multiple sampling capabilities. With these capabilities, companies can make faster and better line assortments leading to reductions in calendars and sampling costs in the supply chain.  Being able to manage and track all of these activities, from the tech pack in PLM to patterning and marker making, can provide better planning and decision making, especially if all the systems are coordinated and can work together.  By putting all this in a system, one can eliminate unnecessary and redundant clerical efforts, and have only one single source of true data.

Questions after the presentations centered on using 3D content, fabric databases, choosing CAD vendors, and barriers to using new technological tools.

Reshoring, Near Shoring and Start-up Manufacturing Strategies

As moderator of the panel, Will Duncan kicked off the session b exploring many of the ways that retail is evolving and how made in the USA can support these changes.  Also discussed was [TC]2’s interest in building a new modern model factory that applies lean manufacturing principles to business processes, supply chain, management and extensive cross-training of all employees. Michael McDonald, Manager, Government Relations for AAFA highlighted that high price point products, technical fabrics and supplemented manufacturing are the traditional success stories in Made in the USA. His presentation mentioned additional areas that are contributing to domestic manufacturing success such as highly automated processes, fast fashion, and quick replenishment. One key takeaway was that apparel manufacturing today is up 11.1% despite the fact that government contracts have been significantly reduced. AAFA’s wewear.org site has a Made in the USA directory for people who are interested in exploring reshoring.

Aaron Ledet, VP of US Manufacturing for VF spoke about VF’s big picture souring strategies alongside what they made in the USA. VF has a large worldwide sourcing presence and expertise in managing the complexity that goes along with its sourcing strategies. Domestically, premium brands such as 7 for All Mankind denim products and baseball uniforms by Majestic are being manufactured.

Sarah Friedman, SEAMS Executive Director, spoke about the increase in business and current challenges its members are experiencing. SEAMS has been supporting the domestic sewn products industry since 1967.

Dave LoPresti, President of Industries of the Blind, and Willie Royal of Royal Park USA, a division of Industries of the Blind, discussed their new partnership. The company’s goal is to build a full package center with expanded product development, raw materials sourcing, and fast, flexible manufacturing and distribution as a service for Brands, Retailers and start-up companies.

Fit, Sizing, and Virtual Try-on Technologies

As the moderator of the session, Dr. Mike Fralix, [TC]2 ‘s President and CEO, reviewed many of the changes in the industry that are affecting both consumer buying habits as well as Brand strategies.  Highlights included trends in online shopping, virtual dressing websites, and the creation of personal avatars for automated fit.

Ed Gribbin, President of Alvanon, showed how technology used in conjunction with a Fast Fashion business model could facilitate the ability to consumers to have the best of all worlds.  That means that they can have it faster, better, and cheaper and not have to pick just two out of three.

Dr. Andreas Seidl, CEO of Human Solutions, shared how iSize can be used to analyze target markets and consumers and determine how to better fit them.  Size Tables could be optimized and fit could be visualized through the use of “Scanatars.”

Raj Sareen, CEO of Styku, shared his perspectives on the use of virtual dressing to not only improve the product development process but to also improve the in-store retail experience.  He also mentioned Styku’s presence in the Cool Zone where the company was showcasing integrated body scanning, 3D prototyping/virtual try-on, M2M technologies, and more.

Luiz Velazquez, Business Consultant for Lectra North America, discussed how the Product Development Process can be transformed through the use of technologies combined with process changes.  Fit and Design can be improved, physical samples can be reduced, flexibility can be improved, and overall communications can be more effective.

Sharon Lim, Managing Director of Browzwear 3D, discussed how 3D systems should no longer be cost justified against traditional 2D systems.  Rather, they should be recognized as a standard component of the fashion development process.  This includes 3D garment simulation, high quality, real-time draping and rendering that should be used by Technicians, Designers, Buyers, and Shoppers.

Yoram Burg, President of OptiTex USA, summarized the morning by sharing some of the advancements that OptiTex has made in the area of visualization of products in development.  And, OptiTex has moved beyond garments and into accessories, where the output looks so real, one cannot distinguish between the physical world and the digital world.

The session was well attended and there was much audience interaction.  At the end of the session each of the speakers was asked to share with the audience the “coolest thing that they heard one of the other panelists say.”  The results will be saved for another time.

A few images from the Cool Zone are included below.

The next Texprocess Americas will be May 3-5, 2016 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

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