Even after the basic training, it is difficult for an average salesperson to come up with the exact measurements. It is here that the 3D technology proves to be a boon. The development of three-dimensional body-scanning technology has immense potential for use in the apparel industry, particularly for customization or mass customization strategies to be employed.
3D Body scanning is a technology that produces a 3D model through scanning. An individual stands in the view of the scanner, while it captures his body image and produces 3D images within seconds. The scanner uses a series of light sensors to produce a 3D image. Images are captured in 360 degrees within a short period of time along with body measurements and human body surface. This data is archived or further processed according to the requirement.
3D body scanning and digitized images are used in mass customization of apparel, where the consumer is measured three-dimensionally, and through the digitized image seen on the computer screen, he can choose a garment with a style that goes with his choice.
The technology of three-dimensional body scanning is used in diversified fields. A renowned application of this scanning process is in the field of custom-tailoring. People are of various sizes and shapes. This created a problem with the fitting. Manufacturers needed more accurate information to produce perfect fitting garments. Customizing garments to correctly fit the consumer depends on the availability of a comprehensive set of measurements. Progression in the field of Information Technology comes to the aid of retailers and manufacturers through the procedure of 3D Body Scanning. In this process, individual measurements can be obtained more accurately and quickly. The 3D scanned data contains standardized tailoring measurements like chest size, body size, circumference, and also complete 3-D data of the individual. This new technology is changing aspects of the apparel industry.
History of 3D Body Scanning
The 1990’s idea of body scanning machines has been incorporated by the apparel industry to come up with right-sized customized clothing for different customers.
Initially, 3D technology was used only to envision designs. In the beginning, when the system was not evolved much, the envisioned designs on an avatar had hardly any connection to the actual built of the model. The technology was simply not advanced enough initially to assess the fit of the garment on the model. Nevertheless, today the 3D technology includes devices to encounter the challenges the apparel industry face. The economic advantages include fewer returns and it also helps in killing the competition. This technology is considered more practical today and several stores are using 3D technology to impress the customers and increase sales.
It is a fast, accurate and easy process. It includes a scanner and measurement extraction software. The scanner extracts hundreds of images of the individual and the software automatically extracts thousands of measurements. The consumers’ measurements are taken through the scanner digitally and a digital twin is created by the computer on the screen. Based on this image on the screen, the computer confines all the measurements that match almost with the consumers actual, individual measurements.
A 3D model is created by digitizing the surface of the individual. The scanner generates a number of 3D images of the consumer. Each image is a partial 3D model exhibiting a single view of the consumers’ structure. To create a 360-degree image of the consumer number of images are taken and all images are aligned in a proper format and one final 3D image is created. Once the image is created, the measurement extraction software installed in the computer takes hundreds of individual measurements from head to toe. This data is then forwarded to the manufacturer who uses his creativeness and creates the garment in a very short time with the exact measurements that match the consumer. This technology is suited for ready-to-wear clothes, close-fitted garments in sports or workouts, garments that need to be used for medical purposes, lingerie designs and for internet shopping.
The most superior 3D applications available in the market unite the patterns with particular fabric properties and stitching lines to imitate the fall of the fabric in reality. The 3D body scanning machines take into account the measurement as precisely as possible and then these measurements are used to accurately predict the ease and tightness of a garment. The fitting is re-checked via a 2D pattern-making machine and final alterations are made to the paper patterns. Without the 3D technology, the manual adjustments made to the paper patterns can be tedious. The modern 3D applications include mechanical functions designed to lessen recurring tasks and allow trained technical designers to adjust patterns in a matter of minutes.
Several international companies are undertaking efforts to verify complete size sets via 3D technology. It is unfeasible to check the sizes of all the garments manually, but 3D technology has solved this crisis. Without 3D technology, companies often simply check a pattern in a size. This does not always translate into a good fit across the board. Inspecting the patterns in all sizes is vital, as it has a direct bearing on the fit and quality of the garment, and consequently the consumer’s assessment of the brand. 3D technology offers a pragmatic, easily accessible solution to the historically arduous task of full-size range fit checking.
With 3D technology, the time required to manufacture the product has also been reduced. Proper communication between the designers, vendors, customers and manufacturers has resulted in a smooth sale process. Many designers are now at ease with this technology and find it convenient to make rapid design decisions on how a garment looks in different colours, with different sizes of motifs and logos, and in different fabrics.
Through computer-aided design (CAD) pattern-making, the companies can also reduce their carbon footprint. With some companies checking the complete size range of a garment virtually, fewer samples have to be cut and sewn. Reducing the millions of samples companies manufacture reduces the energy used for shipping and transport as well as the number of chemicals used for preparing, washing, drying, and treating fabric, and results in less waste from each operation in that process.
As the result of developments in computers, graphic technology and ease of use, 3D technology has benefitted a lot. Originally, the 3D technology required supercomputers, which were costly. Today, with the development of faster laptops the cost has reduced significantly. Graphic technology has improved a lot since the 1990s and now the vector-based technology and drawings are clearer. These drawings are even clearer than the handmade sketches of artists. Today, 3D technology is no longer confined to the field of engineering or science. The trends in the fashion industry change with a blink. It is required to employ 3D technology to come up with fresh designs within days or hours.