Building a custom tool to unlock digital twins, photo-realistic renderings, BOM automation, and more
Our client, a global apparel and footwear Fortune 500 company, approached Theodo seeking to modernize their Digital Product Creation process. In their current process, designers relied on traditional 2D designs during the line creation process, which made it difficult to visualize the final product accurately. This lack of realism caused inefficiencies in design validation. Secondly, the company struggled with high costs associated with prototype manufacturing and e-commerce asset production due to the extensive reliance on photography of physical goods. Additionally, delays caused by manual BOM generation or receiving physical shoe prototypes from distant factories added months of lead time
Theodo was uniquely positioned to address the client's complex requirements and create a tailored solution. Our expertise in building highly technical custom solutions, combined with a deep understanding of integrating technology into existing business processes, set us apart. The client chose Theodo because we were capable of bridging the gap between their needs and the limitations of off-the-shelf 3D solutions. Our ability to leverage web-based 3D and Serverless technologies allowed us to deliver a scalable framework that aligned seamlessly with their workflows.
The Challenge of Building 3D Solutions
Building 3D solutions presents significant engineering challenges. Many existing 3D software solutions are complex and resource-intensive, requiring specialized teams and substantial computing power. Our client required a lightweight solution that could be accessed from anywhere, considering their designers' need for flexibility and remote work capabilities. Theodo's technical expertise in high-performance and flexible 3D technologies enabled us to meet the client's specific requirements effectively.
This is where Theodo came in.
Realistic 3D Designs for Enhanced Decision-Making
The 3D interface built by Theodo allows the client's designers to create digital twins of the products they are currently working on. The design team is no longer relying solely on 2D designs that lack the realism necessary for effective decision-making. Since the configurator is integrated with the client’s Digital Asset Management and Product Lifecycle Management systems, the designers can create products leveraging approved materials, colors, graphics, and samples. Once they are ready, designers can automatically trigger the creation of a BOM. During the line review process designers can also rapidly generate photo-realistic renders of their prototypes, either at custom angles or from e-commerce style presets. These renders serve as invaluable tools for product validation, providing an ultra-realistic representation of the final product. This gives designers, product developers, and other stakeholders greater confidence when making decisions.
Scalable Serverless Architecture for Efficient Rendering
To address the client's need for a scalable solution, Theodo leveraged Serverless architecture, specifically AWS Lambdas, to power the rendering process. By utilizing this lightweight, event-driven computing service, the system can render thousands of images in parallel in minutes at peak demand, while scaling down to zero during off-peak periods. The renders leverage Blender, an open-source 3D software running on AWS Lambda. With this setup, the system can render up to 1500 images in parallel within just five minutes, with each render taking a few minutes at most. The ability to generate hundreds of thousands of renders overnight allows the client to meet critical deadlines.
In terms of costs, rendering through AWS Lambdas means only paying per use at a very low cost, around 0.02$ per render. By using AWS, we could eliminate the need for the client to maintain an expensive render farm or the hassle of finding spot instances for short deadlines. Furthermore, the history of different versions of each shoe design is always preserved, enabling the client to revisit previous iterations and analyze the reasons behind design alterations. This comprehensive record-keeping feature ensures transparency and facilitates efficient collaboration among team members, saving valuable time and resources.
Cost-Effective E-commerce Asset Generation
Following the design and validation phases, the client needs to generate e-commerce assets for their website and B2C sales. Traditional photography for e-commerce images can be prohibitively expensive, with costs including product shipping, studio rentals and post-production. Theodo's solution provided a cost-effective alternative. By leveraging the configurator's capabilities, the client can design on a highly-quality 3D model, prioritizing efficiency during the design process. When the design is completed, they have the ability to instantly export it as a photo-realistic render. This feature allows the client to adjust the quality settings on the renders to meet their specific requirements, ensuring the desired level of realism.
Particularly beneficial for e-commerce or production purposes, the photo-realistic renders generated from the configurator eliminate the need for extensive photography and post-production processes, resulting in substantial cost savings for the client, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars per season. With our solution, the client can achieve the same results at a fraction of the cost, reducing the expense from $2000 per model to less than $1. With the ability to re-render all of the assets overnight, our client can swiftly adapt to changes in materials, designs or supply chain issues. This agility eliminates the need for lengthy back-and-forth communication with factories and reduced the risk of wasting time and resources on prototyping products that are no longer feasible.
Lightweight, Web-Based Design Tool for Remote Collaboration
For the client, remote work and collaboration was a priority. Theodo designed the solution to be highly accessible and portable for designers. Unlike resource-intensive 3D software solutions that require powerful workstations, Theodo's lightweight configurator can be accessed from anywhere via a web browser on a regular laptop. This web-based approach aligns with the client's work culture and enables designers to work remotely without constraints. Whether working from home or on the go, designers can access the configurator, design new products, visualize them in 3D and collaborate seamlessly with team members. The web-based tool allows for real-time feedback and streamlined communication, making the overall product creation process more efficient.
The implementation of Theodo's 3D configurator transformed the client's Digital Product Creation process, addressing their challenges and enabling them to make significant improvements in efficiency, cost-effectiveness and collaboration. The client's designers now have the ability to create and visualize realistic 3D designs, make informed decisions based on accurate representations of the final product and generate e-commerce assets without the need for costly photography. The scalable serverless architecture ensured rapid rendering times, saving time and resources and supporting agile design iterations.