With the design system of Israel’s OptiTex, garment manufacturers can see a computer generated 3D image of their clothes in motion on a virtual runway, while they are still only at the ideas stage.The model swaggers down the catwalk. A little jerky perhaps, but the folds of her brown skirt sway nicely as she moves. She reaches the end, turns, and whoosh, her skirt swings out gracefully behind her before gradually settling into place as she walks back along the length of the runway.
This is clothes design in a computer age. Forget the slow and painstaking process of making sample outfits and seeing how they perform on a real model, now – for the first time – garment manufacturers can see a computer generated 3D image of their clothes in motion on a virtual runway, while they are still only at the conceptual stage.
The new feature, courtesy of Israeli company, OptiTex, is designed to help fashion and textile manufacturers evaluate and produce customized garments in the shortest possible time. The virtual fashion show feature, which OptiTex currently offers as a service to customers, allows manufacturers to transform 2D designs into a moving 3D image on a virtual model, enabling them to see the look of the finished garment, analyze fabric behavior, and see how the design moves on the body.
Apparel customers include Land’s End, Christian Dior, Cherokee, Target, Morgan, Timberlake, Disney, Vanity Fair, and Guess Jeans.
Aside from the garment industry, OptiTex’s new animation technology has also sparked interest in the gaming industry, and the movie industry. Several Hollywood studios are already examining the potential.
OptiTex, a specialist in 2D and 3D CAD/CAM fashion design software, was founded by CEO Ran Machtinger in 1988. Machtinger, who owns the private company, was originally involved in mechanical engineering but realized that competition in this sector was too fierce. Instead he moved into the garment manufacturing industry, the world’s second largest industry after food, where even today only 30% of the industry has been computerized.
Initially things were tough. “We lost a lot of money,” admits Machtinger. “The computers were very slow, Microsoft had too many bugs, the market was not ready to accept computerized solutions, and clients didn’t know exactly what they were looking for.”
Sales began to pick up in 1993/4, and today the company sees annual revenues of some $5 million. In 2003, the company opened North American headquarters in New York, and opened further offices in LA in 2005.
The Petah Tikvah-based company offers a variety of products ranging from the OptiTex PDS (Pattern Design System), which offers high-end pattern design and grading tools, to the company’s flagship product, the 3D Runway Designer, a virtual “try it on” system that simulates the worn garments on 3D mannequins according to user defined parameters.
The software solution allows the user to virtually produce a garment using both flat patterns and 3D technology. All pattern modifications can be seen instantly in 3D form based on accurate CAD (computer aided design) patterns and real fabric characteristics. The tool includes the 3D Runway Creator, which allows the user to drape patterns on virtual models.
Additional tools allow the user to alter body measurements on models to see how items fit. The 3D mannequin has 40 precise adjustable body measurements, and users can create their own specific base size mannequins, saving a great amount of time during fittings.
In June, OptiTex introduced a new product to the market that integrates all the different OptiTex modules into one solution to create a complete industrial solution to produce and inspect customized garments. The solution consists of four key elements, a CAD for pattern design for designing and grading patterns; a made-to-measure modeling tool which enables basic patterns to be customized; the 3D Runway; and the new motion animation engine which allows the user to create virtual catwalks and motion sequences for the dressed virtual models.
OptiTex’s products are designed to simplify processes, minimize production costs and most importantly of all, shorten the garment production cycle.
“Time to market plays an increasingly important role in the fast-changing ready-to-wear industry,” Machtinger told ISRAEL21c. “This makes OptiTex’s advanced solutions a necessity to survive in today’s market.”
What also makes OptiTex’s solutions stand out, says Machtinger, is that they are accurate, user-friendly and can be used alongside any other competing software and hardware.
“We came to this market as an underdog, and realized that the only way to succeed was to offer our customers software and hardware solutions that were compatible with their existing technology. It’s easier to sell to someone who is in the business, than to sell to a newcomer,” he explains. In addition, all of OptiTex’s solutions can be used in the same environment, giving the user enormous flexibility.
OptiTex sells its product around the world, and has translated the technology into over 20 different languages. On Brides.com, brides-to-be can use a new animated service, developed by OptiTex specifically for the wedding site, which allows them to try on wedding gowns to see if they will fit their body shape.
OptiTex 3D Runway technology is also being used in fashion and textile schools such as Cornell University in the US, and New York’s Parsons School of Design, where the technology has been incorporated into the fashion design curriculum.
“This is a remarkable tool for our students,” said Timothy Gunn, chair of Fashion Design, “Not only does it provide them with an invaluable resource, but it gives them a clear advantage as young designers entering the professional world.”
The company also recently closed a deal to provide fashion design workstations to China?s Suzhour Art & Design Technology Institute, and a major fashion school in London is now in negotiations to purchase the technology.
Aside from apparel, OptiTex’s solutions are also used in the automotive, aviation, and furnishing industries – anything in fact where there is a sewn object, be it a tent, a bag, a sofa, a cushion, a car or plane seat, or even a parachute. Customers include names like Boeing USA, Eurocopter, Hawker de Havilland, Irvine Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Toyota. Some 40% of OptiTex’s sales come from the aerospace and automotive industries.
The new animation technology will also open up business to an entirely new sector – the entertainment industry – specifically dressing the animated characters that appear in computer games and movies to make their clothes realistic. In fact, the movie industry has been using animated technology like this for many years, but Machtinger says that OptiTex’s technology is much simpler, faster, and less cumbersome than existing movie animation technology.
“It takes us a fraction of time to get the same results as these technologies,” says Machtinger. “What takes them 10 hours, we can complete in one hour, saving them a lot of money. The result is also much more accurate and realistic.”
The technology is now being tested in a few Hollywood studios.
OptiTex, which currently employs 40 people in offices in Israel, India, New York, and Belgium, is now undergoing a period of expansion, and is aiming to expand its market reach.
“The industry response to our technology is very good,” says Machtinger. “The world is moving into 3D and this kind of technology will become increasingly important in many different areas and fields.”