ITHACA, N.Y. -- Available soon: You step into a booth where a 3-D body scanner sends more than 300,000 data points from your body to a computer. Then you select style, fabric and design features from a clothing manufacturer on the Internet and e-mail your body scan. Soon you receive a custom-fitted garment.
Thanks to a major donation of software, worth as much as $600,000, from Lectra Systems, Inc., apparel students at Cornell University are the first in the country to produce automated custom patterns for garments. They use a sophisticated body scanner, which generates an individual's detailed measurements from a 3-D image, and Lectra software, which produces patterns encoded for a personal fit. Lectra, headquartered in France, is an international company involved in the design, manufacturing and distribution of software and hardware for industrial users of textiles, leather and other soft materials.
The Lectra software donation consists of both standard and custom pattern- and marker-making software and software support for 18 computers. The gift enables students to create accurate, professional-quality patterns for apparel, to grade these patterns to fit a range of sizes and to experiment with automated custom fit.
Cornell alumna Rebecca Quinn Morgan of California, a 1960 graduate of Cornell's College of Human Ecology, donated most of the funds to purchase a 3-D body scanner, which Lectra provided at a reduced price.
Custom-fitted garments produced from body-scan measurements could soon be available across the country, says Susan Ashdown, associate professor of textiles and apparel at Cornell. That is why her students are learning the computerized nuts and bolts of high-tech, custom-fitting garment design and production.
"The U.S. population is so physically diverse that the apparel industry can't fit everyone using a standard measurement chart for sizing garments," says Ashdown, an expert on the sizing and fit of apparel. "As a result, the industry is moving toward the mass customization of garments in response to consumer demand. This demand will someday be met, I think, through virtual storefronts with consumers using their body-scan measurements to buy custom- fit clothing on the Internet."
Ashdown is using 3-D body-scanning technology in Cornell's teaching labs and as a research tool to provide analyses of fit for specific target markets and to improve the fit of apparel. Last spring, students in her class were the first in the nation to use computer software to generate customized patterns from body scans. The students created sizing charts and special alteration grades for different body types, and set up the custom software to generate patterns based on body measurements. Log House Designs, a New Hampshire manufacturer of outerwear, produced custom-fitted jackets for 10 individuals scanned by the students for this project. The fit of the final set of jackets was very successful, says Ashdown. "This project was a great teaching tool for sizing and fit of apparel, as students learn the structure of ready-to-wear sizing along with the benefits and difficulties of custom fit."
Related World Wide Web sites:
o Lectra: http://www.lectra.com/
o Log House Designs: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/review/00003943
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