Case Study

Seamless design solution


Solid Edge enables an award-winning combination of innovative technology and cutting-edge design that stays true to customer's vision

Creative Sewing without limits

Sewing machines from Pfaff have been synonyms for quality and longevity since 1862. Today’s machines have very little in common with their tried-and-true, treadle-operated, cast-iron ancestors, however. Today’s Pfaff sewing machines can be operated by touch screen technology and fed with patterns from a personal computer. Using embroidery frames, the top-of-the-range models can embroider entire T-shirts, tablecloths and jackets fully automatically, based on an individual’s design.

Pfaff machines that are particularly popular are those costing up to 7,000 € (approximately $9,000 USD) in the “home sewing” category, where ambitious hobby dressmakers and tailors make use of the numerous functions and stitching types of these high-tech machines to create individualized works of fabric art.

Award-winning machine design

When it comes to the design of its sewing machines, Pfaff gives the brand its unmistakable appearance through the use of recurring design elements. The Ulm-based design studio, artel design, is responsible for designing all of the manufacturer’s machines. This firm, established in 1999 by Kristine Wassung and Peter Tippl, recently received the prestigious Red Dot design award – the best-of-the-best award – for the “Pfaff creative vision.” The award went to a sewing and embroidery machine, which, according to the judging panel, “sets standards with its minimalist and innovative design and the use of new functions and technologies.”

Peter Tippl, who designs every type of industrial product in his studio, describes the challenges presented by this special project. “We wanted to design a product that would be state-of-theart, while also satisfying the ergonomic needs of its users.” From the very beginning, artel design has relied on highly efficient design systems to convert creative ideas into CAD files for technical development and production. The studio’s software of choice for almost ten years has been the Solid Edge® design system from Siemens PLM Software.

Back when it was choosing a 3D CAD solution, artel design worked with an engineer who evaluated the various products on the market. “We tried out Solid Edge and got on well with it right from the start,” reports Wassung. The company, which employs five people, has always used Solid Edge and has regularly upgraded to the most recent versions. Its technical support is provided by ISAP, Siemens’ marketing and service partner for Solid Edge. To implement software updates, employees use the (irregular) breaks between major projects. “We use these phases to quickly acquaint ourselves with the new functions and put these to practical use in our daily work,” Wassung notes.

More effective collaborations

Solid Edge assists development teams by helping them more reliably and efficiently design components, assemblies and complete systems comprising thousands of individual parts. Taskoriented functions and a structured workflow increase efficiency and permit error-free designs thanks to integrated simulation and modification tools – always within the context of the assembly. This makes the solution ideal for the development of products on a platform basis.

“Pfaff made the decision to create an integrated, recognizable product line based on a single platform some years ago,” explains Tippl. As a result of changing to a system design, product cycles have been dramatically shortened. For instance, a new version is frequently available for smaller sewing machine models after only three years. Thanks to Solid Edge, this means that artel design can draw on existing data, and on the basis of the design tree, to simulate modifications with all the associated subsequent steps at any time.

The team makes particularly frequent use of Solid Edge’s integrated simulation functionality. “We have to immediately demonstrate that our design also works,” explains Tippl. If one of his ideas were to clash with the inner mechanisms of a sewing machine, there would be an instant response from Sweden - where Pfaff develops the technology for its machines. Data is transferred back and forth over the Internet between the design studio in Ulm and the engineers in Sweden. Using a range of collaboration features, Solid Edge facilitates this international working relationship.Once the technical inner mechanisms and aesthetic design have found their final form, the sewing machines are produced either in Husqvarna, Sweden or Shanghai. Thanks to compatible file formats, conversion into designs used for production poses no problem. “Having different formats still presents a handicap in many design projects. However with Solid Edge, the conversion process never presents problems,” Wassung says.

Surmounting design challenges

A particularly challenging technical difficulty encountered in the design of modern sewing machines is the desire for large work surfaces. To allow larger pieces of fabric to be sewn and embroidered without awkward handling, the arm of the sewing head is particularly long.When combined with the rapid movements of the needle, vibration can pose a serious problem. Using its own patented technologies, Pfaff produces particularly smooth-running machines. “Without this, the machine would simply jump right off the table,” says Tippl. At the same time, the design supports the clear lines of the sewing machine, which, thanks to a number of design tricks, does not look at all bulky or heavy.On the contrary, for the American market, the ability to transport the machine is one of the key product advantages. For this reason, artel design has developed its own special trolley bag system, which allows these high-tech machines to be transported back and forth between sewing conventions.

An entirely different type of challenge is encountered when it comes to marketing presentations. Here, it is a question of giving those who are not technical experts a clear impression of what the future product will look like. For this, Tippl and Wassung like to use rendered images of Solid Edge models in conjunction with graphic software. “This works perfectly,” says Wassung. “The marketing department is always very impressed with our achievements.” As soon as the first rapid prototypes have been produced (using selective laser sintering), Pfaff experts are always eager to see the finished product as quickly as possible – which is no problem at all, thanks to Solid Edge.

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