It’s the Biggest Event of the Year
….At least it is for those in the technology field: The CES convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. During this show prominent and new industries show up to reveal the best of the best in prototypes and expected technologies. It’s truly the world’s most innovative show and tell show.
But with so many niches to the technology industry, the show can be somewhat overwhelming. How do you know which product really is the greatest innovator? What product can change your business production processes—for the better?
Well you get feedback from the experts.
An Expert Opinion
Let’s meet the expert. ExactFlat is a leading software company in pattern flattening technology. What is pattern flattening you may ask? It’s the long overlooked but extremely cost-saving process of using software tools to convert 3D designs into accurate and production-ready 2D patterns. For years the process of automating this extremely important step in manufacturing of products covered fabrics was overlooked as companies continued to use manual and error prone design-cut-fit-edit-repeat process. Luckily, innovative companies like ExactFlat saw the gap in automation and sought to provide a solution with revolutionary software for 3D to 2D pattern flattening.
With their expertise in manufacturing, production, 3D designer tools, software, engineering, and more, ExactFlat is able to provide industry specific feedback about new tools introduced at CES 2017.
The 3D Scanning Solution
One of the bigger problems ExactFlat VP of marketing, Cliff Brown, see’s during the manufacturing process is measurement inaccuracy. Particularly when creating after-market pieces for larger products, such as boat covers and seating. Unlike other industries, marine canvas makers cannot simply transport the object they would like to design for into an office with a 3D scanner. They either need the original CAD design or to simply mock-up a similar design with as much accuracy as possible using antiquated tape-and-drape methods. That’s where our favorite CES technology comes in.
One of technologies recognized with an innovation award from CES 2017 was the Matter and Form 3D Scanner. It is the first high-res 3D scanner designed and priced for designers, small businesses, teachers and families. Lightweight, portable and easy to use, it creates fast, precise 3D scans of real-world objects. ExactFlat explains that this revolutionary technology integrated with design and pattern flattening software helps lower manufacturing costs. According to Cliff, with the advent of products such as this hand held 3D scanner, companies will now be able to produce highly accurate 3D models that capture their designs.
ExactFlat is then able to import and make use of the scan data directly in most cases. This change to the pattern-making process is a huge cost-saving tool that helps manufacturers validate pattern fit without iterative cut and sew/assemble steps and reduces overall production costs.
Which Industries Will Be Affected by 3D Flattening and Scanning
So who can benefit from this technology? Is it just the marine industry that will reap large financial gain from this new tech? We again asked the experts.
Cliff explains that the key industries that ExactFlat foresees as benefitting will include furniture, seating design and retrofit for marine or automotive product suppliers as well as many consumer goods designers and manufacturers (i.e.,shoes, handheld tools, back packs, and vests, etc.) any place where a physical mock-up or mannequin is the typical starting point for the design process.
While the introduction of lower cost and more accurate handheld 3D scanners is thrilling, Cliff still believes that professional grade scanners from providers such as Creaform and Artec, are still the best option because of the quality of the initial scan and the tools to help clean up the data. And even though these tools can be a bit pricey to the average manufacturer they usually pay for themselves in the first project.
Looking Towards the Future of Manufacturing Automation
So what tools should we hope to see at next year’s CES? Cliff provided his vision of the future where he explained that he welcomed the continued introduction of new technologies that enable anyone to design and deliver innovative products, “We need to embrace the “maker movement” with the firm belief that products should be created by the “communities” that used them and not just the “corporations” that want to sell them.”
Meet Cliff Brown, Vice President of Marketing at ExactFlat
More than 30 years in the Mechanical CAD/CAM CAE industry.