Production time for custom-made high-fashion mannequins reduced from 8 weeks to 2 days through 3D printing.
Mannequins are the ultimate form of display for every clothing store around the world. When the finest brands in fashion need mannequins, they go to Hans Boodt Mannequins, a Dutch company that makes unique high-end mannequins for the most discerning fashion designers and brands. Customer of Hans Boodt Mannequins such as Calvin Klein, Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger.
Coen Viguurs, Product Development Manager at Hans Boodt Mannequins, states that: “3D printing has revolutionized the way we work at Hans Boodt. 3D printing mannequins can be done at request, with an unprecedented level of quality and in a matter of days.”
Challenge and solution
Every Mannequin a Work of Art
Few people realize that every mannequin is a work of art. The traditional method was to sculpt the anatomical perfection of a mannequin from clay by hand. “Designing a single figure out of clay is very expensive and time consuming, that is the same for every player in the market,” explains Viguurs. The old production process was spread throughout the high-end mannequin industry. Sculpting by hand was just the way this industry worked. The whole production process takes around eight weeks, especially when multiple designs or assemblies are required.
Simultaneously, fashion brands are under intense pressure to innovate and differentiate. A mannequin became a part of the “total design” around a brand, fashion show, label or collection. Mannequins had to keep up with time. Colors, expressions, faces, and poses often had to be completely customized. Leading brands wanted unique looks to support their brands. The handmade mannequins fit perfectly into the pressure for uniqueness, but there were other pressures as well. Companies were looking to decrease their time to market and be more responsive. At the same moment, they wanted to be quicker to get designs from the catwalk into the stores. This meant that the custom mannequins had to keep pace with the time pressure of the fashion industry. The old way of doing things could not keep up with today’s increased demands.
Iterative Design and Development
Hans Boodt Mannequins is leading in the mannequin industry. Just as its customers wished to be quicker to market, so did the company. Last minute changes were slowing down development. The production time of eight weeks was putting serious pressure on the Dutch company. Simultaneously, they wanted to speed up their development and become more flexible as an organization. They started looking at alternative manufacturing processes.
CNC, Casting? What Else?
They quickly found out that their problem was a tough one to solve. Unique person sized pieces often become frightfully expensive very quickly. Technologies such as CNC could do the trick but given the size of pieces that Hans Boodt Mannequins needed the capital investment required would be significant. Material costs would also be high since in their case large blocks of material would need to be cut into mannequins. Other large processes were able to make things in inexpensive materials such as EPS foam. These parts were more manageable in cost, but they did not have the longevity, strength, and finish that met their customer’s expectations.
Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing
The company soon hit upon 3D printing mannequins as a possible solution. Here, however, they found difficulty finding the right tools. Desktop 3D printers were simply too small. The company saw that with the right 3D printing material and design they could innovate. They knew that with some work the right miniature models could be produced. Often high-end industrial Additive Manufacturing equipment produced parts that were too expensive. The time to print was also very long in some cases which slowed the company down. The operating costs on the AM machines and the required investment were also as considerable as the substantially costly CNC alternatives. Hans Boodt Mannequins found itself in a classic problem of a solution existing technically but not being available to them. They had heard of larger scale 3D printers that could make objects 90CM tall and higher. There were some large delta 3D printers in existence as well. It was not until they had found Tractus3D that their business case seemed viable, however. This company had machines that could make the right sized 3D printed mannequins, at the right price and right up front investment as well.
Tractus Printers in Production
Tractus3D printers are made for industrial manufacturing. Not only optimized for production these machines can make the large objects that companies need. The Tractus3D T3500 has a cylindrical build volume of 100 CM by 210 CM in height for example. This build size lets you 3D print large objects such as the mannequins in one piece. The combination of large build volumes and a machine designed for manufacturing is unique. There are many good 3D printers. There are some large 3D printers. There are a few 3D printers suited for manufacturing. Tractus3D, however, is the only company that makes 3D printers that are
2. large and
3. suited for manufacturing.
Tractus3D CEO Ben Schilperoort, “We’re proud that we not only design but also manufacture true 3D printing production systems here in the Netherlands. In the tiny and lovely town of Ammerzoden, we can produce machines that make true large-scale manufacturing with 3D printing possible worldwide. Tractus3D prides itself not only on its machines but also on the best service and support in the industry, and it is in through that kind of care and attention to customers that we can let innovative companies manufacture using our 3D printers. 3D printing mannequins, like Hans Boodt does, is a great example of how 3D printing can replace the traditional production methods.”
Production Time Reduced from 8 Weeks to 2 Days
With the Tractus3D printers, Hans Boodt Mannequins can 3D print a mannequin in 2 days, without having to contract to outside suppliers. By manufacturing in-house Hans Boodt Mannequins has more control over the final product. The team can ensure total quality control and holistically understand their product. By significantly reducing production time the pressure on them has been drastically reduced. They can now readily meet very tight deadlines. Customers that would have first to be turned away because the time frame simply did not work can now be welcomed.
With 3D printing the mannequins the company controls how they are made, but also when and what changes can be made with them. Design iterations and changes are quickly done in CAD and 3D modeling tools. This means that Hans Boodt Mannequins can also more quickly respond to design changes, trends and new ideas from customers. Internally more iterations of products can be made faster and less expensively.
This way of working doesn’t only speed up the process; the costs are around 1/10th less when compared to the traditional methods. A handmade mannequin is ten times more expensive than a 3D printed one. By 3D printing mannequins, the company can save costs while becoming more flexible. For many people, 3D printing is still seen as an expensive technology with expensive parts. By 3D printing mannequins in-house Hans Boodt Mannequins proves that in their application 3D printing increases flexibility, reduces lead time while saving money. The savings help offset Hans Boodt’s investments in 3D printing and are being used to make the company even more innovative.
Every Fashion Label’s Dream
Not only purchasing costs have been reduced, implementation time cut and quality indices improved as well. Viguurs stated that ”the savings are impressive, but not nearly as significant as the changes that they have caused. From now on, it is going to be completely normal for fashion labels to design their own mannequins to match their clothing lines, their branding and the look they’re aiming for. Thanks to 3D printing mannequins, we have become the dream for every creative director of a fashion label.”
An Industry Redefined
By turning to Tractus3D printers, Hans Boodt Mannequins has redefined an industry. Mannequins can now be custom made for one look in a very particular color. Digital designs from fashion labels can be turned into custom mannequins. Fashion designers and the designers at Hans Boodt now have more design freedom to develop cutting-edge mannequins. With Tractus3D, Hans Boodt Mannequins is proving that 3D printing can be used for large-scale manufacturing of high-end items for a very demanding industry.