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Mass Customization Monday #4

Mass Customization Monday is a curated selection of the week’s important mass customization news by the Twikit team. We sift through the nonsense and bring you what is relevant in mass customization.

Aetrex Worldwide buys Sols Systems

aetrexSolsCustomInsoles

A Sols mass customized insole.

Sols Systems, a custom 3D printed mass customized insoles company, was bought by Aetrex Worldwide. Aetrex Worldwide is a comfort and wellness footwear company that started out in the medical footwear field. Sols has a tool called sizeright which will let you at home determine the right shoe size for you to wear. This in and of itself, if it works well it is currently in private beta, is a huge opportunity for Aetrex. Return rates for online clothing stores are high and companies such as Zappos would invest in solutions that would let customers obtain the right fit at home. MAPP3D is the Sols mass customization footwear platform that let people take smartphone images and turn those into parametrized geometry that could be used to make unique soles for them. Sols and ExoSols are 3D printed orthotics customized by the user or by a medical practitioner. At the moment Sols is no longer directly selling its Sols insoles. What will Aetrex do with the asset? Will they focus on making the software and insoles directly available to consumers? Or will they instead work with established shoe brands to offer them customization offerings? Or will they work through their existing channel of resellers and offer them the technology? Or will Sols become an integrated part of Aetrex’s own branded corrective and custom shoes?  

ISlide projects $4.4 million in mass customized sandal revenue

ISlide, founded by a former Reebok executive, lets you customize prints on sandals. The company did not get funded on the TV show Shark Tank but parlayed the attention to endorsements and other TV deals and projects that it will do $4.4 million this year. The company lets you add printed images to sandals that sell for around $50. The sandals are made in China but the customization is done in the US. Justin Kitteridge, Islide’s founder said that, ““The biggest difference between us and our competitors is our speed, versatility and quality,” “Our emphasis is customization and individuality. But our process allows us to do this at scale.”

The Islide online mass customization tool is simple and offers quick visualizations of the slippers one selects.Islide_Mass_Customization_Software_Tool

You can add your own or stock images to Islide slippers as well as text. The slippers however only come in a few standard sizes.Islide_mass_customization_tool_Screenshot

As with many mass customized products design freedom sometimes leads to questionable fashion choices. Of course we at Twikit hope that ISlide continues to do well but perhaps without the socks in slippers thing becoming a trend.Islide_Slippers_images

 

ISlide is an interesting Mass Customization implementation. The simple tool and interface gives people an easy way to add an image, such as a local high school basketball team logo, to a sandal. The focus on just sandals makes the core proposition less complex to consumers and the clarity in pricing reinforces this. The products are customized but affordable. At the same time for Islide, they are high margin. The mayor future feature of the service would be a customized size so people have a functionally superior mass customized product.

SAP Talks Mass Customization

Executives at ERP software vendor SAP are enthusiastic about the opportunities in connected and electric cars as well as mass customization.  Mike Lackey, Global Vice President of Solution Management LoB Manufacturing at SAP said,

“Our designers are going to have more information about their customers, about how their car performs, and the total life cycle of that car than they’ve ever had before to make better designs,” said Lackey. ”Every car is customized for that individual customer, and you’re producing a car every 88 seconds, or you’re producing an engine that’s going to feed into that car every 30 seconds.”

What has happened in the automobile industry over the past years has actually been quite fundamental. From very few car models with relatively few options we’ve gone to an ever expanding number of options, colors and customized elements in the automobile. It is no wonder that the automobile industry is interested in 3D printing and mass customization technology since they’re deploying so many mass customized options already throughout their portfolios.

The Rise of the Digital Twin  

One term that we’ve found is cropping up a lot more lately is Digital Twin. The term first rose to prominence a few years ago but now is bandied about much more widely. A digital twin is a realistic virtual model of an actual object. It is not only the CAD model or the 3D model but a much more extensive and complete representation of it. A complete digital twin of an object. Digital twins can be used to simulate, correct and even anticipate faults in the object, faults in a manufacturing operation or faults in a design. A digital twin can also be tied to sensors to give an up to date virtual version of the object. When given live access to a Digital Twin people can use it for predictive maintenance, analyze machine performance more deeply and optimize a device, series of devices or manufacturing operation. Digital Twin brings together machine learning, AI, big data and IoT sensors with PLM and other software. Its essentially at the nexus of very many “big ideas.” If this idea would become more commonplace it would let machines deployed worldwide be optimized and performance tweaked leading to manufacturing efficiency.  

Siemens PLM has a good overview presentation of examples of the value of the Digital Twin here. GE Research has a good video with a lot of Minority Report kind of fun thrown in. This interview with Hima Mukkamala, Head of Engineering at Predix, GE Digital about the Digital Twin. DNV GL has another video which shows the Digital Twin and how it could be used in a collaborative platform. This interview with executives from Autodesk and Bentley Systems looks at the Digital Twin in combination with CAD and ECAD software.  Norbert Ott of Aucotec summarizes the Digital Twin working along with electrical design and mass customization thusly,

“The electrical design consists of much more than just the diagrams. The diagrams are only the simplified representation of a complex design. Moreover it is the detailed data about devices, terminals, pins, cables and wires and how everything is connected that makes the digital twin. Mass customization requires a software with a three-tier architecture and a database that is powerful enough to handle business-critical data in a multi-user environment and efficient tools that allow comfortable handling of large amounts of data, configuration and re-configuration of pre-specified modules with variants and options.”

Slavica Bozic of Bentley Systems has a good definition of a Digital Twin,

Through comprehensive and integrated 2D and 3D design, our users build a fully digitalized machine model that includes all the drawings, schematics and metadata of the manufactured components from the design. The model then serves as an accurate reference for all project stakeholders.”

Essentially a Digital Twin kind of world could not only make CAD and PLM more intelligent but allow for a lot of value to be created in maintenance and operations. By combining real time sensor information and powerful analytics as well as predictive models and AI it could enable predictive manufacturing and lead to efficiency gains beyond just in time.

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