Digital Patterning with ExactFlat Software

Digital patterns can now be easily created with the aide of 3D scanning devices and a new, cutting-edge software, ExactFlat. By conducting a 3D scan on an object, developing the scanned data into a CAD file, flattening the object into a 2D pattern with ExactFlat’s Flattening tool and sending that file to a digital cutting machine which has the ability to read the pattern and make highly accurate cuts, the process becomes a much faster and cheaper process. The first step in the process, however, is to create your design.

Scanned Data Preparation

The second step in the process is to acquire a 3D mesh file of the object. Using the Go!Scan 3D Scanner and 3D CAD software, the data is easily acquired by performing a simple scan of the object. As the scan is conducted, the computer automatically analyzes the data with the 3D CAD software. From here, users can simply select the surfaces from the 3D CAD file that they want to flatten, by breaking them in 3D pieces based off seam locations and then convert them to a 3D mesh file.

Once the 3D mesh file is acquired and refined, a 2D production-ready pattern can be created from the 3D design – a process known as flattening. Traditionally, this process is extremely time consuming and

Cutter Set Up

expensive. With ExactFlat, however, the 2D patterns can be produced in a matter of minutes. ExactFlat can actually automate the entire process and allows users to optimize the pattern to account for necessary stretch and sag. It also removes the need for the timely cutting and sewing processes which often times require multiple attempts before the desired pattern is achieved. ExactFlat’s tools are incredibly simple to use as well – users can learn how to use these innovative new pattern making tools in just a couple hours.

Once an object had been flattened, ExactFlat’s automated nesting process lays out the patterns to be cut on a single material sheet. By

The Cutting Process

doing so, material waste is minimized and the real-cost can be calculated. The nesting process is a vital step in the overall production process because of its ability to greatly reduce the production time and material use. By confining the entire product into as few of cuts as possible, the door opens for more or new components to be produced faster. Because ExactFlat works seamlessly within your existing 3D CAD tool, there is also no longer a need for the re-engineering of the product which avoids the need for expensive set-up costs. Once nesting is completed, the 2D product can be manufactured.

2D Pattern

Following the flattening process, ExactFlat offers a variety of “finishing” tools which help to avoid critical errors. Within ExactFlat, users have the ability to link the design, patterns and drawings together within the same environment, with any changes made in one area being automatically updated in all other areas. Some of the main capabilities of ExactFlat’s finishing tools include impressive drawing templates which allow pattern pieces to be dragged in after the document template, layer management tools  that help the cutting machine determine pattern pieces based off of seam grain lines, labels, etc., and the ability top include additional production information such as seamtype, length tables, balloons, BOM callouts, material table and customer/product information.

Finished Product

The final step in the production process is to simply cut and sew the design. ExactFlat contains many features which help top automate the production process. One of the most useful resources the software provides is the tools that help document the production steps. Piece/edge labels, assembly notches, piece tags for hardware locations, custom instructions and direct integration with essentially every automated cutter on the market can all be included thanks to the vast features of ExactFlat. The software also works seamlessly with your 3D CAD design tools, allowing for the first ever simultaneous design and production of fabric and solid components.

Authored by Conor Kavanaugh NeoMetrix Technologies, Inc

Images courtesy of ExactFlat

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