CORDIS - EU research results

Consumer Driven Local Production with the Help of Virtual Design and Digital Manufacturing

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - fromROLLtoBAG (Consumer Driven Local Production with the Help of Virtual Design and Digital Manufacturing)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-06-30

3D technology, virtual product development and rendering are becoming widely used by different industries. In apparel industry and trade, however, applications of such technologies are still rare, despite of the huge benefits they offer in terms of shortening lead times and savings in prototyping and development costs. Furthermore, they offer enormous possibilities in marketing, especially in e-commerce and mass-customization, where the applications could pave the way for production to come back to Europe.
The main objective of the project is to demonstrate how virtual design and sales technology can be exploited by the apparel industry and how, by means of such technology, consumer driven local production can be established. The enabling virtual design and sales technology together with the enabling digital manufacturing technology to be implemented and demonstrated during the project will offer the participating ICT companies and creative industry representatives (fashion and sports goods) commercial solutions and opportunity for enhancing their competitiveness in the following areas:
• digital and mobile Internet sales
• interactive avatars for providing inspiring shopping experience
• 3D sales configurators and rendering
• from-roll-to-bag consumer driven continuous local production
Consumers are the driving force behind these systems. Through the following steps this project aims to bring the digital shopping experience beyond the state-of-the-art and, by offering the consumers a novel and inspiring shopping experience, consumer driven local production lines can be successfully established:
• A consumer study and technology survey. Results will be used in setting detailed targets for project.
• The enabling virtual design and sales technology will be enhanced and made more applicable for the consumers to use through digital and mobile connections.
• The modules of enabling digital manufacturing technology, i.e. digital printing, digitally driven cutting and assembly software, will demonstrate how continuous production line connected to consumer driven digital ordering system can be created.
• A radically new apparel product construction and pattern technology developed by participant HB will be demonstrated through from-roll-to-bag production line.
• Road-Show Workshops will be organized jointly with the fashion and textile industry organizations in order to communicate project’s results and benefits to the creative industry as well as to consumers.
By implementing the 3D and augmented reality applications to an e-commerce web site the consumers will have an inspiring shopping experience and extremely fast response to their shopping needs. This will be assured by the ‘from-ROLL-to-BAG’ production line, which enables production and delivery of customized orders rapidly (figure 1.). Inventories will consist of undyed fabrics and accessories, which can be flexibly used for the customized products, thus avoiding the problem of having large stocks of ready-made products normally needed by e-commerce.
Project consortium has 9 partners:
­ Tampere University of Technology (TUT) - responsible for coordination of the project.
­ University of Borås (Högskolan i Borås) (HB) – textile and fashion design, management, research.
­ Douëlou N.V. Bivolino (BIV) – a customized shirt/blouse producer offering products through Internet.
­ Amer Sports Corporation (AMR) – one of the leading sports goods companies in Europe.
­ Cyberlightning (CYB) – 3D Internet expert, experience on the Internet of Things /mobile user interface.
­ AluGroup S.L. (ALU) – 3D sales configurator supplier for apparel, footwear and fashion products.
­ Printscorpio Oy (PSC) – an SME focusing on e-commerce of flags and textiles printed with digital printing.
­ MIRALab SARL (MRL) - extensive research in the field of affective computing, virtual humans, virtual worlds, computer graphics, mixed realities, multimedia technology and 3D simulation.
­ Lectra (LRA) – The world leader in integrated technology solutions (software, CAD/CAM, services).
WP1 – Management goals were implented as planned in Annex 1. Management and coordinating workpackage included IPR and Consortium agreement, communication, intranet, meetings, monitoring project progress according project objectives etc. Project coordination included also financial issues which was follow-up regulary by gathering financial figures every 6 month.

WP2 - Concept specification: A consumer survey was prepared and carried out through Internet using Webropol Online Survey to get consumers’ preferences and attitudes to virtual web stores and virtual retailing and fitting of clothes using avatar technologies. A knowledge search was worked out on available technologies and similar ongoing projects. The findings of the consumer survey and knowledge search were used in outlining further the project targets and details.

WP3 - Interactive Avatar: The objective of WP3 was to select and implement an interactive customizable avatar and select efficient rendering methods for realistic human models. MRL collaborated in avatar design together with CYB. HB and ALU interfaced with sales configuration and product pattern solutions, for example avatar customization and application of component building on an avatar to e-commerce platform. The first 12 months’ focus was in avatar design and simulation platform, after that mostly on integration work to overall rendering/simulation.
The avatar editor was initially built to use Unity Multipurpose Avatar plugin but later on this was replaced by much higher quality Unity5 compatible plugin called Morph3D. Avatar application code was enhanced with natural animations for idle, turning, walking and running behaviors which can be dynamically blended together using Unity5 supported Mecanim animation system.
The aim of the simulation is virtual garment alignment, positioning and simulation on a 3D avatar. The simulation platform takes as input a 3D avatar created by the customer as well as a 3D garment, and proposes to the customer a 3D rendering of the virtual cloth dressed on the 3D avatar. The positioning algorithm is based on surface energy minimization that allows fully automatically positioning of a 3D virtual cloth without deformation of the pattern. By seeing the dressed avatar, the customer can more easily imagine how the garment can look in the real world, how can it fit on his body and finally how the cloth can look during a natural motion by simulating garment movement.

WP4 - 3D Sales configurator and rendering: The objective was to select and modify sales configuration tools for building products of selected parts, fabrics, and measurement information. The configuration system is generally developed to contain three main components: a core configuration software, a feed-back tool and an analysis tool. ALU concentrated on sales configurator tools and CYB on rendering. HB’s work was related in connecting avatar and product components (3D garment & fabrics) in sales configuration solutions.
The software development tasks carried out to complete the development of a working version of the whole 3D Configurator were the following: Setting up a database and entering data, 2D user interface, 3D modelling, 2D textures and tile patterns, materials creation, materials lists and tags, model parts configuration, integrating 3D garment (designed by HB), ordering system.
As a result of the software development the system presents alternatives to customers and guides them through the configuration process. The configurator system has connection to pattern design in order to help the consumer select well‐fitting sizes. Selected parts will then be presented in 3D on a moving (rotating) avatar. Further, a web tool is included in the software for translating customer choices into bill of material, production orders and production schedule. The connection with the production control panel has been successfully achieved and orders can be processed by the system and checked by the manufacturer in order to produce them.

WP5 - Modular Construction and Pattern Technology: The objective of WP5 was twofold: First to implement a radically different product construction and pattern technology suitable for the from-roll-to-bag production line. Second, this novel pattern technology was to be connected to modular selection by consumer and to the production line. Such a modular selection makes consumer driven technology possible.
The work related to new pattern technology was carried out through research by design, using systematic experiments of cutting and draping fabrics on live models. Due to the demands of the project the experiments developed in two garment patterns, one for a men’s shirt relating to the product range of BIV and one for a women’s shell jacket relating to the product range of AMR. Product architecture with customization options regarding fit, model, colour and function were designed and developed for each of them. As the overall system allows consumers to select different options, the product part structures were designed such a way that the selected parts and modules fit perfectly in production and later in use.
When implementing novel pattern technology to products, graphics, product architecture with different customization options, initial production tests were made to guarantee manufacturability as the patterns require automated manufacturing equipment due to their detailed construction and pattern matching. Such equipment includes a cutter with a scanner that identifies the outline of the printed pattern and cuts accordingly.

WP6 - From-roll-to-bag Production Technology: Available digital printing options were reviewed and analyzed from the garment and fabric selection point of view: transfer printing, direct pigment printing and reactive printing. Two product categories for garments with preferable fabric and printing options were selected: a polyester jacket with transfer printing and a cotton shirt with reactive printing.
With collaborative contribution of partners TUT, LRA, PSC and HB the production technology was tested: At first to check possible fabric deformations to ensure proper fabric selections. Later on to give feedback to pattern and print design about different boundary conditions to be taken into account in ensuring proper automatic digital cutting of designed patterns printed on fabrics. Cutters with and without a scanner were tested.
Digital production and garment assembly was demonstrated as a “distributed line”. All products went through the entire production chain, but the machinery was located in different places: printing at HB and PCS, cutting at Lectra and Syverket I Borås (a textile company near HB), and finally assembly of garments at HB.
In order to develop and manage optimal data and material flows in connections between different from-roll-to-bag sub-systems, beneficiaries outlined an interactive input-output model to define and show all the interactions between sub-systems and partners. Another concept level model for exploitation purposes was also created.

WP7 - Piloting and Evaluation: The objective was to test different from-roll-to-bag system components and pilot lines at first with partners and then also with selected consumers in order to get feed-back for solutions under development. In the beginning of the project the focus of Bivolino’s work was mainly in following and guiding the system development based on knowledge gained in comparing the new concept to the results and lessons achieved from the analysis of the current Bivolino Supply Chain.
Several tests were arranged in order to check and ensure the functionalities of all manufacturing sub-processes. Tests were done using the patterns designed according the new pattern technology studied in WP5. Piloting gave valuable information for setting up automated, digital production for printing and cutting, e.g. colour management, how to provide possible fabric deformations due printing or post-printing processes, and finally cutting the patterns correctly to assure proper assembly of the garment. It was not possible to have a PLM or ERP system for the project due to cost reasons. Therefore, automatic transfer of product information could not be tested.
User testing covered the customer view and customer piloting based on the information and feedback gathered by Bivolino and other partners. Selected consumers analyzed the virtual design and sales technology. They were also interviewed regarding the shopping experience and in regards to any constraints or problems in the system. The interviews were made face to face and/or through an internet questionnaire.
The user testing and Internet survey confirmed that fromROLLtoBAG business concept has a demand in the market. The results of the testing and survey needs to be considered when the concept is prepared for commercial use after the project.

WP8 - Dissemination: Dissemination and data management plans were created. Project results were made publically known to consumers through project website ( scientific articles, fashion and general trade publications, and Road Show Workshops. The purpose was to highlight the total concept, how it functions and which are the benefits to the users.
There were altogether 15 publications: 4 in professional journals, 1 seminar paper, 1 Doctoral Thesis, 1 Master Thesis, 2 referred articles, 1 newspaper article and 1 radio programme. Four Road Show Workshops were organized: 1) Creativity and Computer Graphics in Fashion, Chisinau, Moldova. 2) Within CASA 2016 (International Conference on Computer Animation and Social Agents), University of Geneva, Switzerland. 3) Digital fashion, Helsinki, Finland. 4) Digital Local fashion, Borås, Sweden.
Two videos were produced (available in YouTube). Twitter (@fromrolltobag) was used as the main social media channel.

WP9 - Exploitation: A Business Plan for exploiting the results was created by joint effort of all the partners with TUT as the lead beneficiary. The vision identified by the Business Plan is: ‘Consumers purchase customized garments from major brands directly and from smaller brands through the fromROLLtoBAG Multi-Brand Webstore portal with interactive customization and virtual try-on, to be made by Local On-Line Manufacturers.’
The Road-Map for making this vision a reality is built on the following steps: 1) Major brands use interactive software and offer customization and virtual try-on. 2) Establish fromROLLtoBAG Multi-Brand Webstore equipped with software from software providers. 3) Establish local on-line manufacturers equipped with necessary technology 4) Engage smaller fashion brands interested in offering their products through the system. 5) Start promotion and advertising. 6) Expand Manufacturer network in line with growing sales.
According to the Project Plan the expected impact of the project’s contributions was to be as follows:
­ Tens of consumer driven local production applications with the help of virtual design and digital manufacturing can be expected as result of successful dissemination
­ The European creative industries SMEs, especially in textiles, fashion and sporting goods manufacturing and retailing, will be able to improve their competitive position as result of stronger collaboration with the ICT innovative technology providers.
­ The application of new ICT knowledge will strengthen the competitiveness of creative fashion and sporting goods SMEs in the European market against low cost imports.
­ Implementation of the proposed concept will create local production, create new jobs and contribute to bringing production back to Europe.
­ No framework conditions, regulations, standards or barriers are foreseen for achieving the expected impacts of this project.
The concept created by the fromROLLtoBAG project brings interactive on-line sale to a new level, which in turn will strengthen the competitiveness of European creative industries. By using interactive avatar and 3D sales configuration, consumers will have a totally new inspiring shopping experience. European fashion and sporting goods SMEs are offered a low barrier access to this technology through the commercial internet market place provider, thus enhancing the creativity of these industries. Manufacturing will be carried out by local on-line factories, which will create new jobs and contribute to bringing garment production back to Europe.
Discussions were held with numerous stake holders during the Road-Show workshops and other dissemination events, and based on the comments and feed-back tens of new applications as well as business ventures can be expected, for example:
• MiraLab (Switzerland) was able to develop further their avatar technology and this can be offered commercially to potential users.
• AluGroup (Spain) can enlarge to apparel products with 3D sales configurators.
• Lectra (France) may consider expanding towards on-line sales applications with their 2D/3D fashion software solutions.
• Salomon (France) plans to implement interactivity and 3D sales configuration of customized products into their on-line sales portal.
• Bivolino (Belgium) can exploit the results of the project for further development of their on-line sales portal.
• FOV Fabrics Ab is developing to launch a demand driven production system for locally produced garments (fabric production and assembly).
• Syverket I Borås (Sweden) is interested in setting up local on-line digital manufacturing.
• Lindex AB (Sweden) is discussing with University of Borås how to capitalize on the developments of fromROLLtoBAG project.
• Varner Gruppen (Norway) together with Vargön Innovation (Sweden) have asked for proposals for concepts based on the fromROLLtoBAG principles.
• Atacad of Sweden has set up a design studio for implementing the biometric pattern design and on-line interactive product presentations.
• University of Sweden has received funding from Sparbankstiftelsen Sjuhärad a project "Textile Reshoring: through competitive manufacturing in high cost environment"
• University of Lapland (Finland) is planning projects for implementing fromROLLtoBAG technologies.
The overall concept of the project