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Technology @ Cutting Room - Part II

Prabir Jana, Associate Professor, NIFT, New Delhi in association with Lectra and Tukatech in India. Computerised Cutting In last issue we discussed about manual and mechanized spreading, in this issue we will discuss about computerized cutting i.e. CAM. This area is quite complicated and not much information is currently available from Indian users. The apprehension about feasibility of CAM in Indian garment industry was mainly due to staggering price tag. First CAM being installed in 1995, India now possesses around 25-30 operational CAMs. Though not much information is available from Indian users as currently all installations are at early stage and laden with initial hitches. While taking decision on buying CAM some important machine features and operational factors are important to keep in mind. CAM can be for high ply cutting or single or low ply cutting. Though high ply cutting equipment is common among Indian manufacturers. Machine features: Notching Mechanism: This seemingly unimportant feature is often overlooked. For example In a 8.5 meter length of marker having 44 pattern components you may require 77 notches! most of the cutters with multiple ply cutting capability cut notches with knife. Again, depending of the type of notches, the speed will be different. The angle of notches will determine if the machine has to be stopped, knife to be lifted, head to be turned and the knifes has to plunge, lift, turn, plunge and start cutting again. V - Notches with angle greater than 135 degrees can be cut without stopping the machine. Bristle unit: these delicate units support the fabric layer. Size of single unit and air path is very important to achieve even vacuum distribution and uniform cutting. Operational factors: CAM utilisation: This is a very important factor, which decides ROI. This factor is quite similar to "needle running time" in your sewing operation. The knife running time is generally less than 55% whereas the running of machine may go up to 78%. The DRYHAUL time when the machine is running but the knife is not, is due to poor planning of cut sequence, cut direction, common line cutting, start points on a piece. All these can be corrected with software, planning and knowledge. Rest of the time is consumed in marker planning in cutting rooms, set-up time, transfer of last section from cutting machine and new marker. One year after installation, a well-set factory in India can record a typical

First Published in Apparel On Line

Prabir Jana

average utilisation factor of 65%, which can be considered normal. Higher utilisation factor can definitely speed up ROI calculation. Cutting speed: Don't get amazed by the maximum rated cutting speed mentioned in the catalogue, which is generally between 40 meters/min up to 90 meters/min varies from brand to brand. Actual cutting is like driving Mercedes in crowded Chandni Chowk area in Delhi. Type of Fabrics, type of garments, Pattern size & shape, layout of pattern, number of notches and drill holes, type of notches, shape of pieces, size of pieces, Number of Plies, R.P.M. of machine and Linear thrust of Beam motors, blade-sharpening frequency etc. influence the effective speed, which is called throughput speed. You can expect to clock on average 4-7 mtrs/min in actual day-to-day cutting performances. While comparing the benefits of CAM against manual cutting, speed and accuracy is the main factor. One experiment using heavyweight fabric reveals that on average CAM is two times faster than manual cutting. (See chart below). One more interesting factor being established is that "No. of plies" have no effect on cutting time, be it manual or CAM. The chart below shows that for same marker length of 1.56 meter cutting of 68 plies or 12 plies consume almost same time by CAM as well as manual. So the aim should be to maximise the no. of layers.

Cutting T ime Comparison


CAM Manual

30 Time (minutes) 25 20 15 10 5 0 68 (2.82) 68(1.56) 60 (1.66) 28 (2.69) 12 (1.56) No. of plies (M arker Length)

Fabric types: This is one of the most crucial among all factors that influences purchase decision. As fashion fabrics like crepe, chiffon, georgette etc are major strength of Indian manufacturers, apprehension about CAM feasibility is still very high. Among current users maximum use it for medium to heavy weight and more importantly "dimensionally

First Published in Apparel On Line

Prabir Jana

stable" fabrics. There is much less resistance in cutting knits than the wovens. There are two factors to consider in cutting knits. You want to but the highest possible cutting capability as there is hardly any resistance and the best possible vacuum system as the fabrics are very lofty and can be squeezed down for maximum plies. Also zonal vacuum and the re-sealer plastic option is very important for maintaining the vacuum strength thus restricting interply slippage while cutting. Conclusion All major CAD vendors worldwide like Lectra, Tukatech (earlier representing FK Systems), Gerber, Westma, Assyst-Bullmer, Investronica etc. also supply CAM. Interestingly in India almost all makes of CAM are now being installed. Out of which Lectra, Tukatech and Gerber are currently the market leader with wide presence and service network. The future customers have choice of comparing before taking decision to buy. It is very important to clarify why are we buying CAM? As one consultant puts it "The only justification for a cutter - even in high wage countries it the quality factor of the repeatability".

First Published in Apparel On Line

Prabir Jana