NEW YORK--Designer acceptance of computer technology is up significantly, according to a survey by the National Knitted Sportswear Association and Alison Grudier Consulting.
Of designers responding to the May NKSA survey, 69 percent said they currently use computer-aided design systems, that's up 18 percent from results reported in 1993, the first year the survey was conducted.
NKSA mailed the survey to a "random" sampling of 300 fashion, home furnishings and textile designers. Eighty, or 27 percent, responded. NKSA will distribute the survey at the CAD Expo, which will be held at the New York Sheraton hotel, Aug. 16-18.
Of the 69 percent of respondents currently using CAD, 31 percent said they had been using the systems for less than a year. The bulk of users said they'd been working with CAD systems for between one and five years. Only 6 percent said they used the technology for six to 10 years.
Alison Grudier, a Boston-based CAD consultant, expects next year's survey will report an even greater increase in CAD use.
"I think next year there will be an even bigger jump," she said. "There's a growing familiarity with and confidence in CAD systems, and since January corporate purses are opening up and money has begun to flow into CAD systems."
Current CAD users responding to the survey said the most common use for the systems was in printed fabric design; 70 percent said they employ the systems to design prints. Woven fabric design was a close second at 59 percent, followed by knit fabric design at 55 percent. Thirty-seven percent of users rely on the systems to design logos and labels; 33 percent use them for embroidery.
A related, albeit distinct, use for the systems is merchandising presentations, according to users. A whopping 70 percent of users employ CAD systems to design sales presentations.
Ninety-eight percent of users said CAD systems have increased their productivity to some degree. Only 2 percent said the systems did not increase productivity.
Of the 31 percent of respondents who said they do not use CAD, most cited the cost of the systems as the primary reason they have not adopted the technology. Problems with color reproduction, uneasiness with computers and a preference for traditional design methods were also mentioned.
Despite those reservations, however, 57 percent of non-users said they'd probably use CAD systems in the future. Only 10 percent of non-users said they would not use the systems.
Among non-users, the most often-mentioned desired use of CAD was in knit design, indicating that knit design has lagged behind print design in CAD use. Fifty percent of non-users said they would use the systems for knit design.
Grudier said knit designers work more closely with textile mills than printed fabrics designers. The more complex link, she said, has made them skittish about moving to CAD.
"The more machine-oriented designers have been slower to accept CAD," she said.
Grudier added that other "machine-oriented" designers are also considering CAD now. "A lot of people were asking me about possibly using CAD systems to design wovens when I was down at the Computer Integrated Textile Design Association show," she said.
That show was held in Greensboro, N.C., in June.
Printed fabric design, fashion illustration and woven fabric design followed knit design on the wish list of non-users responding to the NKSA survey.
Non-users also recognized the value of the systems for improving merchandising presentations. Forty-six percent said they would use the systems to produce sales presentations.
Fifty-seven percent of non-users said they felt CAD systems would increase their productivity. Thirteen percent said the systems would not.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they worked in the apparel industry; 10 percent said they were in home furnishing; 11 percent said they worked for fabric producers. The remainder said they worked in the automotive fabrics industry, wall coverings or other industries.
The CAD system most commonly used by survey respondents was from Computer Design, Inc. Twelve respondents reported using that company's system.Cadtex and Microdynamics followed with seven users each. Six respondents reported using a system from Monarch Computex; five, a Shima Seiki system; four, a system from Stoll; and four a system from Info Design. Users also reported using systems from Moda Cad, Lectra Systems and AVL Looms, among other CAD vendors.

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