Application of CAD in Textile and Garment Manufacturing

What is CAD?
Computer-aided design (CAD) is frequently used for design and drafting, generating reports, three dimensional modelling, finite element analysis and as an input source for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). The CAD has become popular as tools essential for designing and manufacturing with computers. The process of CAD includes three phases: designing the geometric model, analysis of generated model against various physical quantities, optimization and visualization of computer graphics based on results and analysis. CAD is a very powerful tool for the manufacturing industry, offering several benefits such as improved product design, increased productivity, higher utilization and better quality control. CAD system simplifies the process of designing textile elements like printed surface patterns and garments, and CAD softwares are so popular in the textile industry. Nowadays, application of CAD is common in every field of the textile from making a blueprint to the final creation of the product. CAD systems were originally developed to design precision machines, but by 1970s, they began to find applications in the textile industry. Today, CAD use is widespread in textile and fashion design.

Advantage the application of CAD in textile industry is to design and analyze the product in a shorter span of time with almost zero cost of production. It helps in all the areas of textile process including selection of product design, visual merchandising and product development. The CAD has revolutionized the fabric-designing from graph paper and stencil to mouse and stylus.

Different Textile Based CAD Systems and Their Functions:

  1. TexGen: Specialized for two dimensional and three dimensional weave design.
  2. Modaris: Pattern design system.
  3. JacqCAD (CAD in Jacquard Design): Jacquard designing, editing, creating loom control files, and punching of textile designs.
  4. Textronic: Dobby design, Jacquard design, Carpet design, 3D Design, draft and peg plan.
  5. DigiFab: Digital textile printing.
  6. AVA Weave: Checks, stripes and dobby or jacquard designs, including yarn simulations and multiple color ways.
  7. Scotweave: Technical textiles for industrial, commercial and geotextiles; dobby or jacquard designs. yarn design and cross section view, 3D weave, 3D visualization tool to see ScotWeave fabrics realistically draped over images of garments and other real-life objects.
  8. Arahne: Dobby and jacquard designs, color management, fabric price calculations, yarn consumption calculations, 3D fabric simulation.
  9. WiseTex: Weave geometry.
  10. DesignScope: Victor Dobby and jacquard designs, three dimensional weave designs.
  11. Textile Vision: Color management, two dimensional weave designs, yarn consumption calculations, frame plan.
  12. Optitex: Virtual Prototyping; 2D CAD / CAM patterning and fashion designing.

Application of CAD in Textile and Garment Manufacturing:
In the last few years, there is a boom in the textile industry not only at the domestic level but also at the international level, and the fashion designing industry is at the top of the wave of success. As there is a huge amount of competition and demand in the textile industry, it is not possible to survive with the traditional methods of working.

So looking forward, we have to be familiar with the use of technology. With the help of technology, we are able to increase the interactivity between the real and the virtual, which enhances the designer’s creativity, increases productivity and reduces production cost and time. Nowadays, CAD is used in every field of textile like fiber science, study of yarn structure, weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing, etc.

Application of CAD in Yarn Manufacturing:
To study the behavior of fiber assembly in yarn structure based on mechanical action and fiber properties, CAD software like solid works and COSMOS software packages are used. If an accurate computer simulation of a fabric is to be produced, it should begin with an accurate simulation of the component yarn. For filaments and yarn, many models have been developed by researchers that display the visual characteristics of real filaments and yarns. Most of them pertain to geometrical modelling of the yarn structure based on a single-line yarn path. YarnCAD is a CAD system specially developed for yarn design and visualization at De Montfort University as part of an investigation supported by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. Successful attempts have been made to show yarns accurately in both structure and texture according to the raw material properties and manufacturing parameters. The YarnCAD system simulates a range of yarns, including two-component yarns. Although the simulation does not include fiber simulation, the yarn appearance is very close to the appearance of real yarns.

Sriprateep and Bohez (2006, 2009) developed an algorithm for the 3D modelling of yarn structures as assemblies of many filaments obtained by twisting. They used CAD that simulated the yarn’s structure, and the algorithm modelled a wider variety and yielded an improved visual representation of the real yarn structure. A CAD software package was used to model the yarn structure as an assembly of many filaments obtained by twisting. The yarn structures were based on an idealized helical model with many twist angles. CAD is also used to visualize the 3D modelling behavior of fiber assembly in air-jet textured yarn and air-vortex yarn during high speed airflow application.

Application of CAD in Fabric Structures:
In recent years, the computer representation of woven fabric structures has become familiar to design engineers who are mainly concerned with the appearance and use color and weave techniques to design a pretty representation of the fabric. Today, there are several fabric and garment CAD software packages commercially available for weaving pattern and color pattern design (e.g. Online Tailor Shop/Textronics, Molotow™ color Composer, Scotweave, Sophics, Nedgraphics, Cadtex and Lectra System). Most of these systems represent the fabric in 2D structures and use them in 3D imaging process and animations. Chen and Potiyaraj presented a series of papers on interactive modelling of weaves and developed algorithms for the CAD/CAM of woven fabrics. They proposed a new approach for generating weaves, which enabled the automatic generation of 2D and 3D weaves. Lomov et al. (2001) and Verpoest and Lomov (2005) developed a software package for the prediction of woven fabrics in 3D, which includes singlelayer and multi-layer fabrics. Fancy yarn support fabric simulation feature allows the user to see the virtual fabric of the newly formed design even before the production of actual fabric. This allows creating both front and back of the design, and one can easily change the simulation with different parameters easily with minimum effort and cost.

Adanur and Vakalapudi (2013) developed a fabric 3D design and analysis system that gives users a convenient interface and enables them to view the virtual fabrics and analyze their properties. The new computer software includes fabric input parameters (fiber selection, yarn parameters and point diagram), fabric 2D structure simulation (color structure) and fabric 3D structure simulation (woven, knitted, braided and composites). fiber selection includes the selection of fiber types for warp and weft yarns in single layer, warp backing, weft backing and two-layer fabrics with warp and weft stitching fabrics. The user will have the option to select different fibers for different yarns like warp yarn, weft yarn, top layer, bottom layer, stitching, etc. In addition, it is possible to select blend of fibers by defining blend ratios. In yarn parameter selection, four types of parameters, namely yarn type (like ring spun, open end, filament and false twist), yarn twist direction, twist amount, yarn size and yarn count, can be entered for the warp and weft yarns. In the yarn size selection, the user can select threads per unit area by entering the values as ends and picks per inch or ends and picks per centimetre for the warp and weft yarns. For pattern diagram, users can select the repeat size and can enter any design pattern by clicking on the boxes arranged as a pattern paper. Fabric 2D structure generates the simulated structure of the fabric in two dimensions. The user will have the opportunity to change the colors of warp yarns, weft yarns and the background of the fabric. Users can view the 2D structure with different magnification by changing the magnification ratio values. Figure 1 shows the 2D structure of a random design selected.

The 2D structural simulation of a fabric
Figure 1: The 2D structural simulation of a fabric (Source: Adanur and Vakalapudi 2013.)

In fabric 3D structure simulation, the cross-sectional shapes and the centreline configurations of the constituent yarns mainly determine the geometric structure of the fabric. The yarn’s cross-sectional shape in the fabric can be circular, ellipsoidal or race track shapes. The shape of the yarns depends on many factors like cloth construction, weave patterns, the tightness of construction and finishing treatments. The 3D structure is developed from the input parameters of fibers, yarns and design pattern. However, users can change the yarn diameter values, yarn spacing and yarn crimp levels, plot points and the viewing angles to see the fabric in different shapes and viewing angles. Figure 2 shows the simulation of a two-layer fabric with weft stitching.

The 3D structure simulation of a two-layer fabric with weft stitching
Figure 2: The 3D structure simulation of a two-layer fabric with weft stitching (Source: Adanur and Vakalapudi 2013.)

Application of CAD in Fabric Manufacturing:
The most obvious benefit of using CAD is the speeding up of the process of product development and in some areas of weaving CAD is essential (e.g., in jacquard weaving to avoid mistakes in the complex process of design). There are issues raised through the use of CAD in product development, manufacture, and supply chain.

Product development:
The weave design process would often take weeks or months to complete as the weave design was first conceived of and drawn onto graph or point paper by the fabric designer and then copied onto board by a painter to the exact and precise colors of the design. This board would be sent to the mill for a sample to be woven for approval by the client. Any amendments would be noted and fed back to the studio by the mill. With the advent of CAD/CAM, the designer can design or decide which yarns will be employed, draw out the weave design in the computer, either print or email (as JPEG or another file) to the customer and make any amendments as required.

Computer screen and printer calibration technology has enabled a ‘real-life/virtual’ sampling technique, although further approvals may still be required before final production commences. Figure 3 illustrates the changes in timing and the closer relationship between customer/client and designer enabling quicker communications and more creative decision making regarding the final product.

Weave design before and after introduction of CAD technology
Figure 3: Weave design before and after introduction of CAD technology (Source: K.L. Gandhi 2020.)

CAD enables the following: quicker and shorter production cycles, reduction of mistakes, value-added merchandize, and direct communication between buyer and designer. As CAD systems commonly now have draping and texture mapping functions, it is also possible to visualize the end products as the consumer might see them (be they interiors, garments, etc.), thus enabling quicker alterations of designs and decision making throughout the supply chain.

Manufacture and the supply chain:
The use of CAD/CAM is of increasing strategic importance in the supply chain. The nature of the textiles supply chain has changed from a linear sequential or serial system to a network system. Globalization and its effects have profoundly changed sourcing and manufacturing as well as trading and the market place. To compete, a company needs to have greater flexibility and quicker response. As supply chains have dispersed geographically they have become increasingly dynamic in nature, requiring ever greater communication and networking. Intraorganizational networking has been common place as communication within a company is vital for it to progress. Information technology (IT) has made interorganizational networking increasingly common as different companies begin to form virtually integrated operations to cope with competitive pressures.

Virtual integration differs from vertical integration. Where vertical integration is based upon a single organizations range of capabilities, virtual integration is based upon the most competitive capabilities of several organizations working together in a network as it enables flexibility and responsiveness. CAD/CAM, coupled to enterprise resource and planning (ERP) and, or, systems applications and products (in data processing) (SAP) systems has helped partnering companies in product development across a supply chain to achieve greater and more effective cooperation, communication, and higher productivity with lower costs.

Application of CAD in Garment Manufacturing:
Garment is the last product of the textile industry, which is directly consumed by society for wearing, covering, etc. Its manufacturing process involves some steps like measurement, cutting, development, sewing, pressing, etc. to be generated rapidly and adjusted quickly without diminishing creativity using CAD technology and ability to work on ladies fashionable garments, men’s wear, children’s wear and home furnishing. CAD/CAM technique with computer graphics offer the base of designing and editing of components like design making, pattern creation, grading, lay marker plan, 3D scanning and virtual garment styling with enormous computations capability in the system. The CAD in addition with embroidery is used to make stitch design with variable stitch parameter and embroidery in connection with a sewing machine on garment pieces.

Now, CAD is widely used in garment pattern making. When moving into the CAD domain, the most elementary way to transit manual patterns to a CAD environment is to digitise or trace physical patterns via a digitising table or pattern scanner into vector files. Many preproduction work methods prefer to use a mixture of manual and CAD pattern construction processes. For example, a first pattern for a new style may be derived from a combination of methods of flat patternmaking combined with some shape modelling on a mannequin to create the pattern template for the first prototype garment. Once the prototype garment fit has been approved, the pattern template can be manually digitised or scanned into a CAD system. The capacity to attribute various grading rules at strategic coordinate points (x/y) on the pattern in turn defines the required increase or decrease (+/-) to form a set of graded pattern pieces (Figure 4). This is also known as a ‘graded nest’ of patterns. Once the pattern is digitised with the CAD system as a vector, the CAD file can be used to make subsequent style changes and amendments.

CAD pattern with graded size nest
Figure 4: CAD pattern with graded size nest

The debate within the pattern making profession on the merits of manual versus CAD pattern making is greatly influenced by the patternmaker’s preferred professional practice and access to technology. The capacity for a patternmaker to have affordable access to CAD software packages is a necessary CAD pattern skill enabler. Proprietorial apparel CAD programs that require specific hardware and software licence fees have in the past created a barrier adoption for both patternmaking professionals and students.

Application of CAD in Dyeing and Printing:
Improved technologies are used to secure quality with an estimated improvement in dye selection, color matching and the dyeing procedure so as to reduce cost of production. DyStar introduces a new dyeing system using auxiliary data that replace older non-optimized standard dyeing procedure. The CAD system can be utilized to design a computer color matching system and color management. The computerized methods of fabric designing are weaving and print design. Print design is connected with fine art, but it is an industrial process to obtain small and fine design.

Digital printing is widely used nowadays, for digital printing graphics, mainly Photoshop and Corel draw are used. CAD software is used in the design process and also in the preparation of design as well as screen for print by exploring more and more traditional motifs. It also reduces the design processing time, production cost and has a greater quality level in terms of tones and shade than computer print.

CAD can be used for many fashion design procedures such as design sketches, apparel designing, pattern making and grading, dropping, virtual imaging, apparel specification sheets, storyboards, print and technical drawings for clothing. Typically, CAD determines time during all stages of the fabric design process, helps to create new design ideas, shows every design components, develops a prototype and helps improve the new design before final production.


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  2. Sabit Adanur & Jaget S. Vakalapudi (2013) “Woven fabric design and analysis in 3D virtual reality. Part 1: computer aided design and modeling of interlaced structures”, The Journal of The Textile Institute, 104:7, 715-723, DOI:10.1080/00405000.2012.753698
  3. Textile Engineering – An Introduction Edited by Yasir Nawab
  4. Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye
  5. Woven Textiles: Principles, Developments and Applications, Second Edition Edited by K. L. Gandhi
  6. Structural Textile Design: Interlacing and Interlooping By Yasir Nawab, Syed Talha Ali Hamdani, and Khubab Shaker

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