The challenge of fabric pattern matching in upholstered furniture production
Evaluating cutting-room equipment solutions
Manufacturers of upholstered furniture face operational challenges in marker making and cutting when the selected fabric features a repeat pattern. The pattern on each cut piece must match precisely when stitched to its adjoining partner pieces for visual alighnment and proper pattern flow. In addition, the inherent variability of patterned fabrics must be compensated for during the layout and cutting process.
Typical cutting-room method for pattern matching
Continued reliance on hand manipulation to match patterns across cut parts drastically limits productivity and throughput. This labor-intensive environment typically requires at least two workers and is prone to errors— one who feeds the fabric onto the cutting surface and one who operates a projector that casts an outlined image of the nested layout plan onto the fabric.
One worker must evaluate the placement of the key points from the cut file that are projected on the fabric, and the operator must also adjust the marker to compensate for the inherent distortions of the fabric pattern.
Shortcomings of the current system
This method of manual layout adjustment to accommodate pattern variances has several shortcomings:
Each cut batch or bite is evaluated individually for pattern variances, and the layout of individual pieces or the entire nesting plan is adjusted accordingly; The system relies on the human eye to judge the placement of a laser spot or wide projected line on a patterned cloth; Pieces that are cut incorrectly must be scrapped and re-cut; Matching the layout to the fabric pattern requires extensive operator training; Projectors must be placed in a dark room and periodically require both the bulbs and projectors to be replaced.
The Gerber AutoMatch ™ System for Z1 Cutter Systems
Some manufacturers have introduced new technology that creates a digital representation of the fabric pattern and then integrates a tiled image with the cutting software. Unfortunately, this technique has proven to be time-consuming and inaccurate, resulting in potential gaps or overlapping areas.
In response to this industry need, Gerber has introduced a new pattern-matching technology for the cutting room that eliminates the need for tiling still images. The company’s innovative AutoMatch™ System captures a fluid image of the entire pattern in a single pass and automatically adjusts for material distortions and pattern repeat variances. The system “learns” image points of interest and repeat values of the digital swatch, storing the data in a configuration file unique to that fabric pattern.
Throughput improved by up to 75 percent
Gerber’s integrated Z1 AutoMatch System improves throughput by up to 75 percent. The overall advantages of AutoMatch include:
- Automatic correction of pattern repeat variations and material bows and skews;
- Improved matching accuracy; Single-operator workflow;
- Intuitive design and minimal operator training;
- Reduced operator skill level; and
- Remote monitoring of the system's performance and diagnostics
Meeting — and exceeding — the demands of fabric pattern matching
New cutting room technology vastly improves the process of matching patterned fabrics. In addition to improving speed and accuracy in compensating for distortions in these fabrics, the latest advances in pattern matching technology delivers significantly increased throughput, improved accuracy, reduced waste, lower production costs, streamlined production flow and more satisfied employees.
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Gerber Technology provides innovative software and hardware solutions to customers in a wide range of industries, such as apparel, fashion, aerospace, composites, technical textiles, transportation, furniture and packaging.
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