At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, a number of technology companies converged to unveil their breakthroughs in product design, computer interfacing, and media presentation. Samsung and Sony were in attendance, showing off new cell phones and televisions, while companies like Kohler and Moen were debuting smart faucets and internet capable mirrors.
The attendees even included car companies looking to incorporate smart technology into their vehicles. These company’s attendance all make sense. But why was an awning manufacturer, Glen Raven – the manufacturer of high-quality Sunbrella brand fabrics – at the conference?
Glen Raven, a company that deals entirely in fabric goods, attended a conference dedicated entirely to new and innovative technologies in the computer science industries. You may think they took a wrong turn at some point, but they had every intention of being there. This wasn’t the first time they or other similar companies had gone to the Consumer Electronics Show, and it wouldn’t be the last. There were many different technologies they were observing at the show, but one, in particular, is being eyed with a dedicated interest in the textile world, as well as in fashion, retail, and design.
3D Virtual Sampling In the Textile Industry
3D virtual sampling is the next big breakthrough with realistic design, and its impact is shaking up industries seemingly unrelated to computers altogether. Textile manufacturers the world around are looking to enter a virtual marketplace – a strange proposition for an industry that relies on physical evaluation and observation of a product. This technology is offering textile companies, retail vendors, and freelance CAD designers the opportunity to create a virtual showroom – an environment where customers can see and experience their fabrics prior to purchasing.
Physical sampling is an industry standard in textiles, and for good reason. For the customer, it is necessary that they can see and feel the product to ensure it’s what they are looking for prior to purchasing. During the design process, it helps the company evaluate its iterations and test them to make sure they will meet the design criteria.
Unfortunately, creating physical samples is costly and time-consuming, which places an undue burden on the company. Let’s examine the benefits of 3D virtual sampling, as well as what steps are necessary to ensure you can do it properly.
Benefits of Virtual Sampling for Freelance Product Designers
1. Reduce Costs and Lead Times
3D virtual sampling has many benefits that it can offer, one being how much it will reduce costs and lead time for your products. Typically, in the textile industry, you need to create physical samples for each of the products you are trying to sell. You have to create an initial design sample as a concept piece.
After that, you need multiple samples that will go through testing for a number of material properties. If everything goes well and no further testing iterations are needed, then you must create a production template sample against which to test your produced pieces.
As an estimate, the initial design sample will take several weeks to produce due to the amount of machinery that needs to be set to the specific criteria for the piece, as well as the lead time involved for materials such as fiber, dye or stain, padding, etc. This also means it will cost a great deal to produce the first prototype.
In many cases, the initial design prototype can be in the range of tens of thousands of dollars, particularly if you’re introducing a new fabric design or material. Further prototypes and reiterations will cause a lot of these factors to be reset – your testing may reveal that you need a completely different fiber supplier or different tension on the machinery, which essentially sets you back to square one with both lead time and cost. Creating a new product in the textile industry can range in cost from several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars and can take years to get to the marketplace.
Imagine if you could design an iteration and create a virtual sample without any of the lead time or initial cost. In other markets, this concept has been done time and again because the products lend themselves well to 3D modeling.
But in the textile industry, a much greater complexity is required. With more advanced 3D virtual sampling, however, CAD designers can create lifelike representations of textile products that look and act just like the real thing. With these products, you can design them and test them repeatedly with almost no lead time or cost.
2. Wider Reach
A virtual showroom can not only allow you to iterate and rework as often as you need without the costs skyrocketing, but it will help you reach more customers. One of the largest drawbacks in the textile industry is the fact that you need to have a physical sample in front of a customer for them to truly understand what they are getting. With a virtual showroom, you remove that handicap.
3D virtual sampling gives you the chance to plaster your products across the internet in a way that is accessible to everyone. When customers from Indonesia can easily see your product and can feel like they understand exactly what it is (renderings of the product in an outdoors environment, virtual drawings of it being worn by the customer, examples of it in motion – stretching and being twisted), they won’t need to come into a stockroom or see it in person to purchase it.
You can also take your products to trade shows and sales meetings without having to carry anything other than your laptop. Instead of propping up large swathes of fabric in a booth at the Industrial Fabrics Association International Trade Show, you can allow visitors to scroll through thousands of product offerings and view everything you have to offer.
This technology will allow you to reach more customers and show your products to people much more easily. This is paramount for a smaller company with limited finances to be able to break into the market and gain traction. A virtual showroom opens many new doors to reach clients.
3. Larger Offering Availability
Going hand in hand with a wider reach is a larger product offering. Not only will you have more opportunities to show your products to clients, but you can also use these opportunities to display more products to them. Since 3D virtual sampling takes the cost and lead time out of creating mockups for a new product design, you won’t be restricted by how many you can afford to make or bring to a sales call. A single design can be reconstituted with new colors, materials, and properties instantaneously, and you’ll be able to promote it to a new client.
Being able to offer new products without having to wait for them to be manufactured opens up a world of new possibilities. Because you won’t have to wait around for the product to be created, you can begin selling them en masse as long as the customers understand the lead time that will come with not having a physical prototype.
For any company, but especially a smaller company, this will allow you to start generating income that can cover the costs of producing these prototypes and the eventual products. It will also help you funnel your production towards higher volume products as you are building your business – you’ll know that you have already sold and will be able to sell twice as many of one product as the other, so you can focus your efforts on that product more.
You aren’t limited to what you can make up front when you have the technology available for 3D virtual sampling. Creating these renderings will help grow and streamline your business, and it will be invaluable as a marketing and sales tool. It improves your offerings and gives a better brand image, all of which are extremely valuable to your business.
How to Begin Creating Virtual Samples
1. Understanding of Your Products
One of the first steps to creating a virtual showroom is to understand your products. The CAD services & design process with 3D virtual sampling will consist of lots of very detailed work on the product. Because of this, it is imperative that you know the texture, design, color, and material of your product as well as what tests and requirements it has to meet.
There is an upside to this, though. The reason it needs to be such an in-depth understanding is that you are going to be able to put an incredible amount of detail into the design. 3D virtual samples have become incredibly lifelike and realistic in both their look and their performance.
A garment sample on a computer can now be modeled to assess its moisture wicking properties or its reflectivity. You will be able to synthesize the texture visible on the fabric and so much more. 3D virtual sampling is not just a design tool, it is an intimate representation of a product that is highly accurate down to individual fibers.
The level of detail is incredibly useful when showing the product to the engineering team or to potential customers because you can show practically a real-life product. Materials testing can be performed on the piece without ordering a physical sample, which will please all the engineers on the team.
Accurate, photorealistic visuals will market the product for itself and entice your customers to purchase it. The benefits of 3D virtual sampling stem from an intuitive knowledge of the product, but they will help to convey that knowledge to others in a stunning and aesthetically pleasing way.
2. Technology and Skills
Obviously, it’s going to be very important to have the technical acumen to create these designs. In order to create a 3D virtual sample, you will need the appropriate software and tools, such as Optitex or VStitcher, that can handle your product and its demands. There is a cadre of different software tools available to create these kinds of samples, so it’s necessary to dig deep and select the best one for the work you’ll be doing.
Once you’ve found the right software to suit your needs, you’ll need the tech-savvy to get the project done. You can learn how to do the work yourself, which is a great addition to your skillset but is also very time-consuming. Taking a course on 3D concept design services are costly and will take several months, if not more. It will take even longer if you’re teaching yourself, and one of the benefits of these samples is that they’re supposed to reduce time. Another option is to hire a professional to do this work for you. You can find a freelance designer who has experience with the software you’re using and have them creating realistic 3D virtual samples in hardly any time at all.
If you want to check the score, you’re looking at several months of time spent and tens of thousands of dollars spent to create a real prototype or sample of your product, as compared to a couple of weeks and maybe a couple thousand dollars to hire a freelancer to create a virtual sample.
That’s not even considering that the virtual sample can be replicated, redesigned, and reimagined in a fraction of the time it took to create the original. In the end, you’ve created multiple dynamic, easy to access and replicate virtual samples that you can test, recreate, and offer to customers to expand your products and market for a fraction of the time and cost.
3. Established Supply Chain
The final thing you’ll want in place to do these 3D virtual samples correctly is an established, or known, supply chain. You don’t need to have vendors lined up and ready to go, but you need to be prepared when the time comes to create the product.
Because these virtual samples will expedite your process significantly, as well as allow you to sell products prior to creating the physical good, it would behoove your business to have things prepared for when it is time to ship it to a customer. This means knowing options for suppliers who can meet your product specifications and deadlines, and knowing where to manufacture the products.
Fortunately, because of how powerful these tools are, you will already be very aware of the properties of your final product. You can anticipate the stretch, the absorbency, and any other properties that may affect its manufacturing based on the prior analysis of these product designs. This will help you fully understand what you need and ensure that you are ready to manufacture them.
When a customer sees your design, they’ll be able to select what products they want. You can turn around and have the suppliers and machinery ready to make whatever they ordered and you can hit the ground running. A high-quality 3D virtual sample will kick the speed of your business up a notch, so it’s vital that you have the supply chain prepared well in advance.
Expert 3D Virtual Sampling Freelancers with Cad Crowd
Ten years ago, many people likely would have been shocked at the variety of industries that would be upended by the advancements in rendering and visualization software. To think back then that textile manufacturing would be venturing into the world of using 3D virtual samples to market their products and create sales pitches to clients is almost unheard of.
The technology has blossomed to all companies to run simulations and create hundreds of iterations of a product in significantly less time so they can invest their effort in the truly successful aspects of their business.
Stay ahead of the game by creating 3D virtual samples, renders, and mockups of your products. Find a freelancer today on Cad Crowd to give your company the competitive advantage it needs as you design, fabricate, and test your products.
Your business will achieve higher productivity and be able to generate more sales than ever before because of the opportunities a high-quality 3D virtual sample will give you. Show off the greatest designs to your clients and cut down on costs, while breaking into the future of the marketplace with a 3D virtual sample. Learn how it works.