3DaaS (3D as a Service, in its cloud based version) was introduced during 2015, joining the two decades’ old 2D CAD-based 3D visualisation software solutions range (2D/3D).

    So what are the main differences between the two approaches, and how can brands benefit from using both?

    The first clothing 3D visualisation software solutions were introduced in the mid ‘90s, where the fashion industry was marked as a target for such solutions in the late ‘90s. A few years later the integrated 2D/3D platforms were developed. Given the significant CAD systems’ installation base that existed by then in the fashion industry, no wonder CAD and CAD/CAM solution providers targeted CAD users with 3D visualisation software solutions, with production efficiency enhancement as their main marketing message.

    Recently introduced, 3DaaS utilises artistic 3D virtualisation technologies and skills that are not common in the fashion industry, expanding 3D applications’ spectrum.

    3D Visualisation Process Simplified

    The 3-Dimensional Virtualising process requires two main steps: simulation and rendering. A common way to present the simulation uses Polygonal Modelling, where points in the 3D space are connected by line segments to form polygon meshes. This method of simulation is very common today, since it’s flexible and easy to render. 2D/3D software simulation engines today still can’t cope very well with 100% of 3D simulations’ challenges – like multi layers and transparencies, where each layer may have different fabric properties, resulting in different meshes colliding into each other. In Artistic Virtualisation environment the artist will focus on visual presentation, “sculpturing” the model, avoiding these issues.

    The next virtualisation step is the rendering, where 2D/3D systems use a built-in standard rendering engine and 3DaaS artists use a wide range of solutions originally developed to support high fidelity cinematic and video effects.

    Main Difference Areas

    While industrial 3D visualisation systems’ philosophy is based on production process support and, as explained earlier, have some presentation limits, outsourcing 3D opens a new range of options.

    3D visualisation can be sourced out to service bureaus who use 2D/3D systems, but recently a new approach was introduced: 3DaaS utilising technologies from the cinema and video gaming industries.

    The simulation and rendering technology used in these industries can be described as “artistic”; the input materials could be pictures, sketches or any other visual format that will provide the 3D artist with an idea about how the finished product should look. The modelling process could be described more as sculpturing. As a result, the final result will be extremely close to the finished product since the physical constraints are removed. A new world of virtualising accessories and other hard-surface parts (trim) is open for the designers with the intention to evaluate their design ideas. It is now much easier to present in ARTISTIC VIRTUALISATION 3D, very complex, styles that include transparencies, multi layers, accessories, trim or technical characteristics.

    As a consequence, becomes the perfect solution for eCommerce, marketing and product development presentation purposes. In terms of production support, hi res 3D virtualisation could be used as an additional visual input for the pattern maker. In other words, it is now much easier and faster for design teams to get a good feel of how their sketches will look in 3D without going through the 2D pattern making process. Obviously, the hi res 360º can be viewed on collaboration platforms or virtual showrooms.

    Benefits For Brands

    As described in the below diagram, each 3D visualisation process supports different business needs. Some of the collections’ styles can be virtualised using both menthols and achieve the same visual results as well as supporting production needs.

    The dominant trends are for 3DaaS to make inroads into the apparel product development space in specific, and into the fashion industry in general, supporting eCommerce. 2D/3D simulation algorithms and rendering capabilities improve facilitating a wider 3D visualisation gamut. The combination of both approaches’ strengths will benefit early adopters not only by reducing cost, product development cycles and waste, but also by expanding their offering and improving their go-to-market performance.

    While in-house 3D allows integration of 2D and 3D, 3DaaS allows more agility (besides presentation advantages).