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22nd January 2019, Frankfurt

Micro-factories: future of clothing production

From 3D image to finished prototype in 18 minutes: the future is here in the world of knitting. The Digital Textile Micro-Factory at Texprocess and Techtextil, which take place in Frankfurt, from 14-17 May 2019, will show a workflow which enables 3D-knitted uppers for shoes to be produced directly from the customer’s own particular foot measurements.

The 3D-knitting Line of the micro-factory, partnered by Stoll, demonstrates the process from the 3D model to the creation of a geometrically accurate knitting pattern by the software, based on the 3D data set, and the development of a specification of the final knitting data, through to the manufacture of a 3D-knitted prototype.

Individualisation, automation and digitalisation

Individualisation, automation and digitalisation: micro-factories are the way forward for the future of clothing production and will be the main theme of Texprocess. In a total of four micro-factories at the up-coming Texprocess, trade visitors will be able to get an idea of how integrated textile processing works and where micro-factories are already being used.

Digital Textile Micro Factory at Texprocess 2017. © Knitting Industry

“Send your favourite design to the manufacturer today via an app and wear your individually designed, perfectly fitting trainers or shirt tomorrow. It’s a long time since this was just a pipe dream for the future,” said Michael Jänecke, Director Brand Management Technical Textiles and Textile Processing at Messe Frankfurt. “Behind it, however, lies a host of complex processes, involving production, processing and logistics. Micro-factories, based on networked and integrated procedures, represent the progressive way of making textile processing quicker, more flexible and, because it is more local, also more sustainable; whilst, at the same time, producing personalised products.”

Micro-factory by Efka and Gemini

Manufacturers of drive mechanisms for industrial sewing machines Efka will, in collaboration with CAD suppliers Gemini, be showcasing the production of a knitted garment that can be individually designed.

The core element of their micro-factory, which closely reflects industrial practice, is the link to the sewing stage of production, something which is already available today as an economic, partially automated solution. The display presents a solution that can be easily implemented and adopted by most companies, using already available resources.

Integrating virtual prototypes and customer interaction

Following the success of the last event, Texprocess, in collaboration with the German Institutes of Textile and Fibre Research in Denkendorf and partners from industry, will once again be presenting a Digital Textile Micro-Factory display – and thus fully networked production chains – live in Hall 4.1. New this year: the Digital Textile Micro-Factory will showcase three production lines – one for apparel manufacture, one for 3D-knitted shoes and one for processing technical textiles, largely for the motor-vehicle and furniture industries.

Digital Textile Micro Factory at Texprocess 2017. © Knitting Industry

The fashion industry plays a central role in the Digital Textile Micro-Factory. The customer’s digital doppelganger is becoming more and more important in development departments in the apparel industry, as the starting point for individualised and perfectly fitting clothes and for links with finishing departments. In the context of the micro-factory’s production line, it is the key feature.

The production line demonstrates the various stages involved, including CAD/Design, printing, cutting out, assembly, finishing and labelling. New approaches also combine 3D simulations of clothing with direct data transfer in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Instead of presenting the customer with physical examples of the clothing to be produced, the examples are visualised as virtual objects. And during the production process, the customer has the opportunity for direct input into   the design of the product in question.

This direct interaction between the 3D simulation of an item, the representation in VR/AR displayed on the customer’s own hardware and the direct impact on the production process has never been shown before in this way. Partners of the Fashion Line are: Assyst (CAD/design), Mitwill (materials), Caddon, ErgoSoft, Mimaki and Multiplot (printing), Zünd (cutting), Juki and Stoll (assembling), Veit (finishing) and Vuframe (AR/VR).


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