Advantages of CAD/CAM in Textiles

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

We all like to wear clothes. But how are they designed and made? Did you know the process involves technology? In this lesson, explore the advantages of CAD and CAM in textiles.

What are CAD and CAM?

Chances are, you're wearing clothing right now. They might have a colorful printed pattern, or be done in an interesting weave. Your home probably has things like curtains, blankets and dishtowels, too. Well, someone had to design those things, including the patterns on their surfaces.

Designing textiles used to be a time-consuming process done by hand
hand-drawn textile design

Designing textile patterns and clothing used to take a lot of time. But today, computers make the process quicker and more efficient by using software called CAD and CAM.

CAD stands for computer-aided design. Basically CAD is a software program on the computer. CAD systems help textile designers create whole garments, design printed patterns for textiles, and create specific weave and knit patterns.

To use a CAD program, the designer often creates a rough draft done by hand, then scans it into a computer. The rest of the design is done using CAD. The designer can create multiple drafts, make changes to sizes and colors, and even produce 3D images on the computer for a client to review.

When the design is finished, it can be immediately imported as a digital file to the CAM system. CAM or computer-aided manufacturing, works in conjunction with CAD systems. It takes the designs and produces the actual garments or textile patterns. Textile companies use CAM to manage all aspects of the manufacturing process. Everything is automated, from cutting parts for an endless number of garments to sewing those garments together, CAM makes the manufacturing process more streamlined and efficient.

Advantages of CAD and CAM

Increasingly, CAD and CAM are standard in the textile industry. Between them, they provide many advantages to textile designers and textile manufacturers.

For project design phases, CAD provides several advantages. It makes design changes and revisions quick and efficient, including adjusting colors on a textile pattern or resizing a garment. CAD creates designs that are more accurate with less chance of mistakes. CAD also allows great flexibility when changing design drafts. In short, using CAD systems saves time and allows the designer to be more creative because it eliminates the monotonous parts of the process, like having to redraw designs with every small change. Then the design can be digitally transferred right into a CAM system.

CAM offers many advantages during the manufacturing phase. It integrates all elements of the process, which might include multiple machines and cutting of many garment parts, and then sewing of those parts. CAM makes textile production faster with consistent, accurate results each time. It can handle mass-production of textiles. And, if the customer wants to order a popular design again, it's very easy to do because all the information is stored in files in the system.

Today CAD and CAM are used to produce many garments and colorful textile patterns
colorful dresses

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