What do bicycles, automotive interiors, awnings, handbags, pool covers, and sporting goods have in common? They are all made of something that gets cut and attached together, and they all start with a pattern. Manufacturers of these textile-based products can use CAD to create those patterns, or they can use pattern making software (PatternSmith) that has been designed specifically for making patterns.

What’s the difference? Gary Unitt can explain. Gary is the Customer Solutions Manager at Autometrix. He spends his days training customers in how to use our software and showing prospective customers how our tools work. Sometimes he even films demos showing  sample pieces being cut for prospective customers so they can see for themselves how our cutting tables work with their materials. In his previous job, he was a CAD guy, working in the injection mold making industry (His name is on a U.S. patent for a multi-material injection molding process!).

PatternSmith lets you create patterns that are ready to be cut by a fabric cutting machine. It actually communicates instructions directly to the cutting table instead of creating a paper pattern that then needs to be cut. 

Gary Unitt, Customer Solutions Manager for Software Products

When Gary learned about PatternSmith, Autometrix’s pattern making software, he immediately saw the advantage over CAD for pattern making. “CAD software lets you create a drawing that communicates information,” said Gary. “PatternSmith lets you create patterns that are ready to be cut by a fabric cutting machine. It actually communicates instructions directly to the cutting table instead of creating a paper pattern that then needs to be cut.”

PatternSmith Does it All, Better Than CAD

PatternSmith prepares your patterns, nests them for best efficiency, and sends them to your automated cutting table for fast and accurate cutting. Sound like CAD? Think about something like seam allowances. Need to change a seam allowance? In CAD, you have to replace each seam allowance value by hand. PatternSmith can globally change seam allowances with the press of a button. Notches also move automatically with pattern changes.

But what if you already designed your patterns in CAD? Moving them to PatternSmith can actually save you time and money. Here’s how. A good pattern is designed for cutting efficiently – smooth lines instead of lots of individual segments. Those individual segments are called polylines, and some software systems and digitizers approximate curves with polylines.

Using Good Patterns Can Save You Money

Smooth Curve vs Poly Curve

The problem with polylines vs. smooth curves? Cutting polylines is hard on equipment. The cutting table speeds up on the straight lines, and then slows where the segments join. The cutting is jerky, and takes longer. It greatly increases the wear and tear on your cutter.

The video below shows a test cut of four circles of various sizes:

  1. The first time, the patterns were made of arcs and it took 6.55 seconds to cut them.  
  2. The second time we cut, the patterns came from a dxf file and were constructed as polylines. They look the same, but the cutting time was almost double, at 12.6 seconds.

Constructing the patterns out of arcs reduced the time by 48% — almost half.

Thanks to the hard work and innovation of the software gurus at Autometrix, PatternSmith can smooth out those polylines for you with the click of a mouse, and snap together segments from sloppy patterns that were built in CAD or imported from another type of software.

Efficient Nesting Saves Time and Material

Still not sold on PatternSmith vs. CAD? OK, here is one more thing that CAD can’t do – efficient nesting to maximize space on each piece of material. PatternSmith can nest up to  99 tables of patterns on up to 99 materials. Nesting can be done automatically or manually. You can save materials in a Material Library and import them into projects when needed – PatternSmith gives you a visual indicator so that you can immediately see the color of the material you are working with and stay organized.

Gary Unitt - Autometrix Inc
Gary Unitt at IFAI 2017 hosting the Cocktail Lounge Gary Unitt at IFAI 2017 hosting the Cocktail Lounge

Best of all, PatternSmith is smart enough to nest according to material – it can nest the correct pattern pieces on the appropriate material and adjust the cutting speed according to the type of material. It even aligns stripes and patterns! CAD definitely can’t do that. Lastly, PatternSmith’s slicer figures out the best way to slice large patterns to fit on a particular width of material.

Curious About How PatternSmith Can Help Your Business?  Ask for Gary

If you are curious about how PatternSmith can help your business, contact Gary. He’d be delighted to talk to you about the custom patterns you are creating, and how PatternSmith can save you time and money. Send us some material to cut and if you’re lucky, Gary will even make a video for you, like the one above.