How do you work through 10 different colour ways or logo designs without having to guess which will be the best? How do you enthuse and excite your stakeholders about your design before a sample has been made? How can you test multiple aesthetic variations with users? You can get stuck choosing between colours, concepts, designs, patterns and logos, and a sample card just won’t tell you much. When we have to overcome these difficulties we turn to 3D software. Our designers use 3D software to create patterns, characterise materials, and then fit and render soft goods without a thing being made. Whilst not a finished design, such rendered virtual samples let us present a vision of the concept, or work together to test multiple details quickly when choosing directions for the product to be manufactured.
One question is; when in the design process is a virtual sample most useful? A rendered visualisation is not a product, although it looks a lot like one, so choosing when to deploy this tech requires care and experience. We would say that it depends. A sample is typically a physical facsimile of a manufactured item used to demonstrate what that item will be like. A virtual sample is therefore a virtual facsimile of a product. However, renders like this can give a taste for what will be, and so there are benefits to creating a vision of the product before it is ready to go to manufacture. Take for example this image of Exosuit’s EX01 – the garment was already proven – is definitely a virtual sample. We used it to help Exosuit choose colourways from multiple options for their bespoke service.
By contrast, the image above is of a wearable medical device. It was used to present a vision of what a product with years of development ahead could be like in the future. So, you can see that the technology can be invaluable from the beginning to the end of the design journey.