Paperless Parts Fulfills New England 3D Printing and Scanning Needs
Nashua, NH, April 21, 2011: Clarks, a world leader in footwear for men, women and children, has transformed its development process to release better, more stylish shoes earlier in the fashion life cycle. Headquartered in the UK with a design center in Massachusetts, the global company has removed weeks - and in some cases, months - from the design process by digitizing prototyping with help from Z Corporation 3D printing technology.
Traditionally, shoemakers use paper sketches, factory-manufactured samples and design reviews to move concepts toward production. Multiple cycles are the norm. 3D printing of new digital designs enables Clarks' digital development team to create detailed, colorful physical shoe models in hours instead of the two weeks it used to take for manufactured samples to return, dramatically reducing time and cost.
"Rather than wait two or three weeks for a costly prototype to arrive, we now have a full, multicolor prototype in our hands in a day," said Ross Authers, Clarks' digital development manager. "We save a lot of time and money both in production and shipping. This more efficient process significantly enhances the quality of the final shoe, which arrives in the store much earlier in the style cycle."
With Z Corporation's ZPrinter®, Clarks can produce physical models from 3D computer-aided design data nearly as easily as a businessperson can print a letter from a PDF file. These models become a crucial part of the design review, providing the same information as manufactured samples - and much more than an on-screen drawing. "When you move a model on screen, you're doing it in an artificial way from a single, fixed point of reference," said Authers. "You miss the subtle visual changes that occur as real light glances off different parts of the model at different angles, and as your hand moves naturally. When you're holding a shoe model in your hand, your eyes are constantly moving, and the shoe seems to almost change shape as you turn it. This matters because, as you'll notice, there's not a single straight line on a shoe. You need to see it in three full dimensions."
Clarks prints one or two physical 3D models per day, not including wildly popular miniature shoe models for marketing and sales. And while it would normally take Clarks months to go from concept to approved product, its new automation strategy, involving digital shoe design and Z Corp 3D printing, can shrink that cycle time to weeks - ideal when the pressure is truly on. Once a product is approved, it can be re-printed in other locations around the world, adding further time and cost savings.
About Paperless Parts
Paperless Parts helps leverage 3D CAD data across the product development process. 3D CAD data is unambiguous and communicates not only dimensional requirements but also design intent. The unique tools and prototype services offered are selected to maximize the impact on the design process. They help design products faster, at a lesser cost with higher quality.
About Z Corporation:
Z Corporation 3D technologies help product designers, engineers and architects create the right designs the first time. Professionals use ZPrinter 3D printers and ZScanner® 3D laser scanners to compress the design cycle, generate new concepts, communicate clearly, foster collaboration, and reduce errors. These solutions span the entire 3D CAD/BIM design process from concept through design verification.