Virtually every industry has found a way to incorporate 3D software into their manufacturing process to save time and eliminate costs. While it may not be a stand out obvious candidate for utilizing these tools, the marine industry has found more than a few uses for 3D especially in the area of pattern flattening. But today we’re going to focus on understanding how 3D pattern flattening software impacts the fabrication of marine canvas.
ExactFlat. Solutions for Marine Canvas Challenges.
ExactFlat is a 3D flattening software company that began helping marine product manufacturers in the late 1980’s. At that time the industry as a whole was in a bit of turmoil because of the global economic downturn. Replacing or acquiring new Marine textiles was considered a luxury-type idea that consumers just were not buying any more. Marine manufacturers were faced with a dilemma:“ How do we continue to operate/ meet our annual gross profit goals and still deliver quality products while shipping fewer units per year?”
The answer of course was process automation, which is the “exact” challenge that ExactFlat’s pattern flattening software was designed to address. ExactFlat clients are seeing 2x to 5x reduction in the time it takes to get from concept or customer request to finished product. That’s saving them hundreds and in many cases thousands of dollars each year. All of which goes directly to their bottom line.
Basic Workflow Overview
Whether the starting point is from from a 3D CAD model, 3D scan or digitizing tools, ExactFlat can import the design data.
- 3D models capture every detail of the design
- Users can then refine and edit the canvas components right along side of the hardware, structures and hull
With a typical marine canvas project consisting of 50% framing and hardware components, and 50% cut and sewn canvas, ExactFlat is an optimal solution for the detailed engineering phase of the product development workflow.
- ExactFlat is not limited to flattening only canvas, custom seating upholstery and other marine textiles. ExactFlat also flattens patterns of composite materials such as hull design, or vinyl pieces like pontoons to name a few.
Pattern Making Automation:
With your design engineering completed, you now need to prepare your pattern pieces for the cutting table. The process to prepare and convert your 3D design into 3D pieces for ExactFlat pattern flattening is fast and simple. Don’t worry, ExactFlat is designed to be highly compatible with most 3D CAD software.
- Once your 3D design has been imported, ExactFlat’s proprietary algorithm will flatten the 3D design into a 2D pattern in minutes.
- Optimize your pattern and easily identify and adjust the design to address areas showing high strain and sag in the material.
- Quickly add seam allowances, notches, grommets, zippers, etc.
- Utilize integrated nesting tools to accurately predict your cost of materials based on the flattened pattern design.
Final Production Steps:
- Complete assembly instructions can be created within the ExactFlat software in order to reduce production time, skilled labor requirements, and eliminate errors. Yet again putting more money back in your bottom line.
- And ExactFlat production-ready patterns and mark sets are compatible with most automated CNC cutting tables
It’s as easy as that.
In the marine industry, manual tape and drape and cut, fit, re-cut iterations are not only incredibly labor-intensive tasks, but also incredibly time-consuming and costly.
So to increase overall profit it makes sense that the time and labor costs spent on these all too important,pattern making tasks be reduced to generate more revenue. But how? Well check out how one marine textile company used ExactFlat to do just that.
Eclipse Yacht Canvas: A Success Story
Eclipse Yacht Canvas is well known for their work on the luxury yachts that dock in palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. On these custom crafted beauties, Eclipse manufactures exceptional quality products such as custom upholstery, covers, awnings and more.
Not only is their quality well known and impressive, but they strive to continually impress their luxury clients with some of the industry’s shortest “commission to completion” turn around times.
Yet despite the positive reviews and successful business, Eclipse saw a problem in their long-term growth plans: profitability and company growth were limited by a series of very manual, time-intensive processes.
The Process Time-Line:
- Visit yacht to manually create paper-based pattern pieces (hours-to-days)
- Drape and cut materials over the pattern pieces (days)
- Digitize pieces (hours)
- Create the pattern design (hours)
- Produce, test and repeat to optimize the final fit (days-to-weeks)
So what was the solution to this problem? Pattern Making Automation.
Eclipse selected ExactFlat to further reinforce their brand values of quality and speed to help grow their business by automating manual and repetitive tasks in order to increase productivity.
Here’s how the elimination of the manual process looks like now:
- Digitize the pattern pieces directly on the boat
- Import their files into their 3D CAD program to complete their design work
- Use ExactFlat to generate production-ready 2D flat patterns in minutes, rather than hours or days.
Furthermore with ExactFlat software, Eclipse is able to automate repetitive tasks such as documentation tasks such as adding seam allowances, zippers, grommets, etc in just minutes.
Results that Speak for Themselves
Depending on the complexity of the project, Eclipse now delivers their projects 40-50% faster. Joy Hutchinson, owner of Eclipse Yacht Canvas is now leveraging this competitive advantage to expand her customer base globally as yacht owners around the world now take advantage of Eclipse’ superior service and quality.
Not only has speed to completion increased, but Eclipse states that they are now able to spend more time on high-value design because they’ve eliminated the iterative, manual processes that had become the marine industry standard. Eclipse is now able to respond faster to customers’ needs. This boost in productivity has now turned into a win for customer service as well and it is winning them more business than ever before.
Whether you are a smaller marine business or a larger successful firm, if you are not automating the most time and labor intensive process in your marine textile production process than you are leaving money on the table. Click the “Try it Now” button to try ExactFlat (Online or Desktop) and see how this easy to use 3D Flattening software can increase your marine business’ revenue.