Survey update: 3D design related technologies

Survey update: 3D design related technologies
29.11.2018 Thao Nguyen

Together with our trusted partner,

VTT – Technical Research Centre of Finland, NOMO conducted a survey of utilization and the need of 3D related technologies in fashion and clothing industry.

We wanted to understand the current state to use 3D technologies among the apparel professionals, and the future insight what the experts’ vision the industry is leading to. Over half of the survey respondents represented micro sized companies. One fifth (21 %) of professionals had used 3D systems for pattern making or garment designing, and a clear minority of professionals (6.5 %) had fitted garment samples on a 3D model in a garment production process. Still, a large majority of professional (87 %) were interested in future 3D tools, which would enable designing clothes directly on the 3D scanned body model. The survey had four main categories; pattern making and design, sample fitting, sizing and measuring, from which we highlight the main findings in the following.

Pattern making and design tools

Taking a closer look at pattern making and garment designing in production process, traditional method, i.e. manual design with pen and paper, was still the dominant one (81 % of the answers). Even though 3D enabled system were not widely used yet (21 %), the interest in using 3D tools enabling clothes design directly on top of 3D body model received a high support by a large majority of professionals (87 %). This decision was explained by realistic display of the final garment and possibility to personalize apparel features.

Highlights of pros and cons of each system perceived by professionals are summarized in the following table.


System Pros Cons
Manual system
  • Popularity
  • Affordability
  • Creativity enhancement
  • Low speed
  • High need for storage/ archive
  • High possibility for misinterpretation of final sketch
2D system
  • High speed
  • Replicability
  • 3D geometric ability of users
  • Difficult to present the final product
3D system
  • 3D display of final product
  • Easy for prototyping
  • Competences of users
  • 3D fitting can go wrong (quality of input)


Sample fitting

Sample fitting was still performed mostly on actual human body, with 97 % of the majority, or on tailor’s dummy with 49% of the respondents. Only 6.5% of the experts had used sample fitting on 3D body models. Nevertheless, possible use of 3D body model, digital body measurements, and precise measurements of body surface area in fitting process received high assent from professionals with an average of 60%. Besides, such information can be widely used in grading, sizing, creating dummy model or avatar, detail placements or in QA procedures.


The survey brought an attention to the practice of sizing, to which approximately 68% of the respondents confirmed the implementation of different sizing to different collections, clothing brands or customer groups. The differentiation of sizing is determined by various factors, including (a) human factors such as age, gender, body types and shapes or the natural evolution of human body over generations; and (b) business and marketing factors, for example the composition of materials, brand attributes, fashion trends, garment types and market preferences. Professionals also expressed a constant need for sizing update, with 16 % for annually and 32 % for regular schedule with an interval of 3 to 5 years.


In work context, not all professionals of the survey dealt with measuring human body. For those who did, nearly 96% of the respondents still manually measured human body using tape measure. One fifth of the professionals had used 3D body scanner (18 %) or mobile phone body scanning applications (12 %) when measuring a human body.

According to the responses, it took an average of 40 minutes for professionals to take measurements of whole body for 4 garments (jacket, trousers, dress and shirt) with a tape measure. Furthermore, neck, shoulder and crotch were considered the most difficult parts to measure correctly. Meanwhile, 3D body scanner showed its advantages, such as pace, quality and capability of handling measurements which seem to be challenging to measure manually.

To minimize unnecessary alteration of ready-made garments, it was highlighted that good base work, good patterns, and more measurements are essential.  Good preparation and communication among different processes’ parties were therefore recommended to minimize these forms of error.

Regarding the accuracy of body measurements, the variance of equal and less than 5 millimeters was likely to be accepted by most professionals (nearly 60 %).

Future insights

High interest in utilizing 3D based solutions in apparel industry and financial capabilities of the majority of Finnish micro-sized companies emphasize close collaboration between domain and technologies experts to fulfill developmental need for diverse 3D solutions, of which 3D body model and human body measurements can be integrated and optimized in the most possible way. Together with industry 4.0 trend, it further calls for flexible adaptation of the change in the industry, from business model, operation, thus results in the need for professionals to upgrade new knowledge and competences in digital field.

More details about the survey can also be found at VTT website in English or Finnish.

Stay tuned for our new updates!