By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 4
As textile production houses take on digital printing and finishing capabilities, it is more important than ever to have a robust software solution in place to power the entire process. Design, printing, finishing, and even inventory/ERP/MIS software is necessary. Each minimizes touchpoints throughout the process, ultimately minimizing room for error, which can lead to costly waste and reproduction.
Automation is essential in the design of a textile, especially in large production facilities. Determining color and its final appearance is one part of the process that can be digitized. Programs are also available to cut down manual tasks like creating a step-and-repeat pattern. Other solutions involve 3D visualization, which is an advantage in the proofing process.
A first step for any design process is choosing colors. Cotton swatches and/or chips are typical options for inspiration. “By using physical and digital references, designers can easily communicate and verify color intent while improving manufacturing efficiency down the road, increasing the probability that design intent is what will actually be manufactured,” explains Shoshana Burgett, director of corporate strategy, X-Rite, Incorporated.
X-Rite offers the Pantone Fashion, Home, and Interior Design Guide as an option for choosing colors. Designers can also capture color from inspiration items with pocket-size color capture instruments like X-Rite CAPSURE or RM200QC imaging spectrocolorimeters.
Determining if the colors chosen are actually achievable with the combination of fabric, printer, and ink used can be done using applications like PantoneLIVE Design, which is an Adobe Illustrator plug-in. It gives designers access to Pantone digital color libraries and private brand libraries.
“Consistent color information at the design phase can be a real challenge for brands. Color ranges and defining the seasonal colors to be used and produced is an important step in the design process,” agrees Will Cloots, senior product marketing manager, EFI. “The difference here compared with analog printing is that creativity and design is not limited. Digital printing offers more possibilities with more colors that can be reproduced accurately.”
Create and Edit
Sebastien Hanssens, VP marketing, Caldera, points out that designers don’t necessarily use the same software as printers and when they do, it is not in the same manner. Being creatives, many may not design in the actual software but instead use it to digitize their hand-created creations. This is done in programs such as Adobe Creative Suite and CorelDRAW or others created specifically for the textile industry.
“The design sketching tends to be the first step where tools can make this process significantly quicker through mirroring and integration with repeat and other tools. When designing patterns, repeat design software can help the designer in their creativity, making the repeat look seamless while maintaining an efficient process,” adds Cloots.
Tukatech Inc. offers TUKAstudio and TUKAcad, which integrate with digital printers. Tukatech is the only company—according to Ram Sareen, head coach – founder, Tukatech—that can automatically match garment markers with images, which are related individually to each size and garment.
“This is essential because we can put the graphics inside the pieces only, reducing the use of ink to print areas between the pieces, which are unnecessary,” explains Sareen. Tukatech uses this feature in apparel businesses such as Lulusar and Voler.
Tukatech developed plug-ins for Adobe Illustrator that allow for automatically resizing or cropping images according to the graded nest. This allows for applying graded pattern pieces and nested markets and generating files for printing including piece outlines, graphics, pieces of information, and special notches.
EFI Fiery DesignPro is a suite of textile and fashion design tools that act as Adobe plug-ins. DesignPro Color Range helps designers match colors to the printed result. DesignPro Utilities keeps colors, patterns, and seasonal palette data organized. DesignPro Repeat creates repeat patterns inside Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop using straight, drop, and shift layers in conjunction with vector or raster art. DesignPro Geo allows for the creation of snowflake and geometric motif patterns.
Create from Crea Solution is a 2D CAD suite for creating and editing patterns. Designers can produce patterns from scratch or to digitize them using an optical pen, scanner, or blackboard, with Survey and Draw modules. Users directly import proprietary format patterns without having to export them in DXF, with several direct importers, maintaining all the seam information and internal extensions such as notches, buttons, and holes. It is also easy to create size charts, generate reports and thumbnails, export to PDF, and grade sizes automatically with the Expander function.
3D visualization of designs is common practice. X-Rite’s Appearance Exchange Format (AxF) file format is in many 3D rendering software programs. It is a vendor-neutral format that enables the communication of all aspects of a physical material’s appearance—color, texture, gloss, refraction, transparency, and reflection properties. The file format is a result of a material scan, which occurs using X-Rite’s Total Appearance Capture eco-system.
“With the scans, apparel brands and designers can incorporate physically correct, virtual materials into 3D visualization programs to create photorealistic 3D images of garment samples in order to accelerate the design, creation, and merchandising processes. This streamlines the design process and moves the need for physical samples and prototypes further down the product development road,” explains Burgett.
Metis SURF 3D ColorGATE Edition hardware is a new high-speed surface digitization technology used to acquire surface properties in 3D including color, glossiness, and depth information of materials like wood planks, leather, stone, textile and wallpaper as well as fine art. Launched in April 2018 as a collaboration between ColorGATE and Metis, the scanner generates a color accurate, high-resolution color image including embossing data and a reflectivity map representing the surfaces reflection properties. The system comes with sophisticated design and manipulation software to easily edit and model the acquired surface description data.
Lotta is a 3D solution from Crea Solution specifically developed to speed up the design of a single item of clothing or a whole collection. Users access a library of customizable base patterns. Personalize them with different cuts, fabrics, and details. Fast and intuitive, the program is integrated with Adobe Illustrator and it allows for loading the necessary textures to get an endless array of variants for every design.
While most designs start with a manual doodle, they are ultimately digitized to speed up production, enable ease of approval, and eventually make a printable file. Design software in the textile production process is essential. Following design, the next part in this four-part series discusses printing production software that helps automate textile printing.
Jun2018, Industrial Print Magazine