Leather has been used by man since prehistoric times when animal skins and hides were used as clothing; as bedding, to make shoes, to build shelters, to make weapons & armor, to make ornaments & decorations and also for trade.
Today, leather is equally or even more important than before, with a wide range of products being made from leather; footwear, belts, bags, sitting couches et al et al. The list is considerably long and the use of leather so widespread such that almost anything can be made of leather.
Gucci, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo are some of the world-top class luxury leather products companies. Their products such as leather bags or footwear are admired, loved and preferred for their high quality and their unique & sophisticated designs.
These companies share something common — they are top Italian brands which have been and still dominate the leather market because of their unique tastes, superb designs, high-class materials as well as awesome styles and patterns which are always rhyme with the latest trends in the fashion industry.
This doesn’t mean that there are no companies from other countries with the capability, creativity and technique to design and produce quality leather goods with unique originality. Longchamp,
a French luxury leather goods company is also revered due to its top-quality leather bags.
In the production of leather products today, companies need to be well equipped with the most unique geometric designs, attractive architectural sketches & models and awesome patterns. They also need to come up with a technique for production which eliminates chances of error and is able to anticipate market suitability of any leather products manufactured with minimal costs under a relatively short period of time.
Moreover, there must be a proper project design or system whereby all information relating to the products manufactured is stored and should be readily accessible to users whenever needed but should be secure enough to ensure that the stored data is not accessed by any non-authorized party.
So how can small companies enter the leather market and be at a position to compete with these leather giants profitably?
This site was initially established briefly in 2012- 2013 and it operated as a blog to create awareness by enabling visitors find stores and compares various Longchamp leather bags and other leather products from the French company.
Now the site has more engaging content and images which provide guidelines and information needed to venture into the saturated leather industry. New or infant businesses may doubt their capability of venturing the leather market and get discouraged, but not anymore because it’s very easy and possible to do so profitably.
Entry may have been difficult and costly 2 or 3 decades ago, but not any more. Courtesy of computer technology which now blends well with the leather industry, companies and businesses can today use Computer Aided Designs (CAD) software, Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software among other computer software, applications and programs which are tailored and customized to aid the production of leather products which reflect the latest trends and tastes of the market. I wish there was software for losing weight.
Then I could get thinner, and look good in fashionable clothing and so on. Some motivational software would be nice, to remind me to stay on my diet, exercise, and stuff like that. Maybe that talking moose, motivations power of suggestion software.
The software and computers programs also lay strong emphasis on the uniqueness and the establishment of great originality of leather goods while expressing rich creativity in the leather products’ complete life cycle. This reduces cost of production and enables the timely production of leather products tailored to meet the demands and specific preferences of the buyers.
Product Data Management in Leather Industry
In any production of goods or services for sale, there is always need to efficiently manage any data used or resulted in any stage of the manufacturing process and all information which relates to the production process. Also data pertaining to market, sales and customer data needs to be managed accordingly. For easier storage and retrieval, such data needs to be managed from one central system.
This also is true in the leather industry. To achieve this, Product Data Management (PDM) software are used to consolidate and store all vital data and information systematically in a single system for easier retrieval.
The data and Information stored includes :
CAD data, 3D models, manufacturing procedures and instructions, resources, notes taken and the processing documents.
The PDM software should have the ability to be accessed by multiple applications and users across the whole organization.
It should support all business needs and requirements of the data stored or manipulated during the manufacturing process. The system should also provide security to the data as well as enable the manipulation or processing of data and the data configuration management.
The PDM system should enable file or data ownership, revision of data, data version control (checking and checkout of the data files) and the release statuses of data.
The security functionality of the PDM system should ensure that data is safe and available to the correct users throughout the products life-cycle. It should also protect the intellectual property rights.
Data Processing and Manipulation
Smooth workflow and efficient processing capabilities enable both internal product team and the external partners to work as a team in the product life-cycle.
A PDM should help users establish, manage and also execute best practices for change planning, change incorporation and change verification as well as communication.
Data configuration Management.
PDM system provides the vital information and necessary visibility required for managing and presenting data and other resources.
Advantages of PDM :
- Retrieve valuable data easily and quickly.
- It improves production process and reduces products life-cycle time.
- It helps to reduce development errors hence lower costs.
- It ensures the improvement of a products value chain.
- It ensures that all business and third party regulatory requirements are observed and met.
- It facilitates the optimization of operational costs and resources.
- It facilitates communication and collaboration between business partners and customers.
- It provides vital info and the necessary visibility required for effective decision-making.
Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) in
the Leather Industry
The 3D design which has been produced patterned and graded might require some improvements to enhance the style and to reflect changes in tastes and trends in the market.
Therefore, there is need to use CAE (computer aided engineering) software which simulate the real production of a leather product with style and tastes of the buyers. CAE enables the improvement to the 3D designs and assists in resolving any manufacturing problems which may be encountered in the final production of the 3D design.
It takes into account the simulation of the 3D design produced, its validation and optimization as well as manufacturing tools & resources and ultimately it outlines the best processes needed to produce specific leather products.
Typically, CAE comprises of 3 simulation processes:
- Problem solving
— Pre-processing — In this step, the CAE software helps to produce a model or prototype of the leather product which incorporates the physical and geometric properties of the 3D design. In the pre-production process, it considers the applied loads or constraints (problems encountered) which may result and they are documented and passed to the next step.
— Problem solving — Any loads or constraints observed and documented in the pre-production of leather products in the pre-processing stage are solved in this step by a CAE software. The software resurfaces the most appropriate mathematical or functional formulation referred as physics, which can be used to eradicate the problems encountered.
In some complex engineering problems, the simulation of multiple phenomena facing the production process is represented hence a multi-physics solution CAE software is required.
— Post-processing — This is the final step of CAE simulation and it involves the validation and optimization of the 3D design to ensure that the production process is smooth, reliable and efficient. If everything works as expected, the leather products can now be mass-produced for sale.
If the CAE simulation suggests that the product manufacturing is not feasible, then engineer or users needs to go back to the drawing board.
Advantages of CAE :
- CAE helps to reduce product production & development cost and time by ensuring that the simulation captures all vital details hence the product will meet the best-desired qualities and it’s durable.
- CAE helps to make the most appropriate design decisions based on the impact on performance as simulated.
- CAE enables to evaluation and refining of the design through simulation instead of physical prototype testing. This not only save time but money and other resources.
- Performance insights and trends can be forecast earlier in the development process when any changes implemented to the design to suit market are cheap to make thus avoiding losses later.
Computer Aided Design (CAD) in leather industry
— Computer Aided Design — is the use of pre-programmed computer software for sketching and drawing models of leather products in 2D architectural designs, providing a complete visualization of the model in 3D concept design and eventually the pattern engineering and grading of leather products.
These processes are all important in the production of leather because they ensure that custom designs and preference are considered in the final production of a leather product.
— 2D architectural design and art — usually provide the basic ideas and concepts on how the leather product will finally look and this can be observed in 3D design visualization. CAD software are usually incorporated with design templates for specific leather products e.g. shoes and the user is offered the ability to upload his/her own sketch or to modify existing ones.
The sketches can be scanned into the computer or hand drawn. The user has the ability to modify the sketch according to the customizations preferred e.g. adding logos textures and other decorations.
— 3D technology and concept — is then used to enable a complete view of the leather product which has been designed from any angle. Most soft-wares have improved graphic capabilities enabling the best visualization and thus reduce the margin of error.
Pattern engineering and grading – Different products have various sizes to match client’s requirements. CAD software’s enable the grading and sorting of a certain type of leather product according to the different characteristics e.g. shoe sizes. Pattern engineering involves the use the CAD software to reuse an idea or pattern which is general and usually repeated in several leather products of the same type e.g. Logos.
Leather is widely used in the fashion industry today in producing various products such as footwear, belts, hats and other clothing e.g. jackets. This means that leather for those products will vary in types & styles and will require a wide range of decorations or patterning to suit different needs i.e. wide range of techniques will be used in pattern making in order for the leather used in the production of the above products to have the right material effects.
These processes and techniques are referred to asleather crafting. In leather crafting, animal hides and skins are used to produce various work of leather art by involving various techniques.
Leather molding — This technique involves soaking of leather in relatively warm water so that the leather material can soften and make it pliable. Thus the leather material can be shaped/molded into leather forms required and when the leather material is left to dry it assumes the shape into which it was shaped.
Leather carving — This is the process of using tools to compress moist leather on a 2D architectural design and thus the leather will result into 3D model which depicts the real leather art intended to be produced.
Leather patterning — This technique involves the use of patterned tools or stamps to create a pre-designed imprint on a leather material.
Leather dying — This process involves the use of dyes which are made of either spirit or alcohol to pigment/stain a leather material.
Due to the wide use of leather to produce a variety of fashion accessories, foot wear and clothing and the great need to have these leather products adapt to the dynamic tastes, styles and trends of the fashion industry, computer technology has been used to complement leather development in various ways which include:
- 2D architectural design and 3D modelling
- Production of custom designs
- Sketching and model drawing
- Pattern engineering and grading
- Leather engineering and manufacturing
- Costing and Documentation
- Project management
To achieve all this, Computers Aided Design (CAD) technology is used in the leather industry. It involves the process of 2D architectural designs and the visualization of the design in 3D concept as well as the design documentation.
A CAD software is used to provide a user with tools to ease the design process, draft documentation and engineer the manufacturing process.
Computers Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and Computers Aided Engineering (CAE) are also used to complement CAD.