Located in Sendagaya in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, an area known for the numerous apparel-related businesses who have coalesced there and put down roots, andMade.kitasando is a membership-based co-working space that opened in April of 2017. It is somewhere where patrons can enjoy themselves while fabricating items of apparel at their own leisure. The facility itself is run by the FURUTACHI PROJECT, Inc., a company that is known for managing the professional interests of artistic types, including numerous celebrities, writers, directors and stylists, etc.
In addition to having a range of apparel-manufacturing infrastructure such as sewing machines and textile printers, in that it was imagined from the outset that equipment would be required to help create unique pieces of clothing from parts which included originally-designed accessories and buttons, etc., a Trotec laser cutter was incorporated into this fashion-involved fabrication hub.
Although at first, a straight line might not be generally thought of as running between the use of a laser cutter and the creation of items of apparel, as a piece of digital equipment, the Trotec Speedy 360 and its Atmos Duo Plus exhaust system has proven to be an ever-popular combination that is always in operation at andMade.kitasando, it ranking behind the hub’s textile printer (in first place) and in front of its sewing machines (in third place) as one of the facility’s most popular creative tools.
When plans were being made for the andMade.kitasando facility, a laser cutter was envisioned for the mass of work that it was imagined would result from the need to carry out processing tasks such as the cutting of leather materials and the finishing of accessories. In recent times, however, the same equipment is being utilised by more and more workspace members who desire to cut and prepare their textile fabrics. That development has meant that the popularity of the Trotec Speedy 360 and its Atmos Duo Plus exhaust system has soared and is now on a par with the facility’s textile printer and sewing machines.
As to why andMade.kitasando selected the Trotec brand to meet its needs, Ms. Mihoko Arao of the FURUTACHI PROJECT, who also serves as Chief Manager of andMade, offered the following: “Speaking personally, when I think of laser cutters, I think of Trotec. Based on my own experiences of having used Trotec laser cutters at other fabrication facilities as well, when making our own equipment selection, there was peace-of-mind in that I knew of the brand’s combination of safety and processing speed.”
Almost 100% of its membership joined andMade.kitasando due to their desire to fabricate items of apparel. Thus, while they wanted the ability to process leather-based materials in numerous ways, the actual breakdown of how the Trotec Speedy 360 has been used is for textiles (40%), leathers (30%), acrylics (10%) and other materials (20%). Making use of such inputs, the laser cutter is deployed to help create clothes and fabricate fashion accessories.
As examples of how the Trotec Speedy 360 is being used by members of the andMade.kitasando co-working space, by making use of the tendency for fabric not to fray when cut using a laser cutter, some garments have been assembled from numerous small pieces that have been cut to the very finest detail of just a few centimetres each. Another technique that has been mastered is to finely cut out letters and then apply them to textile backgrounds. An additional popular laser-cutter processing method is sculpting shapes using materials such as denims and satins. Leather-based materials are often utilised to manufacture parts that are later assembled into bags, or as materials for the creation of clothing tags. There have also been examples of members using the laser cutter to sculpt foaming agents for the purpose of creating unique heels for shoes. In using a laser cutter, in that it is possible to cut in fine detail in a manner that is much more precise than work done by hand, there are a lot of members of the andMade.kitasando co-working space who have used their access to the Trotec Speedy 360 unit as an opportunity to take up a challenge and create experimental products.
Ms. Arao offered the following comments about the facility’s combination of the Trotec Speedy 360 laser cutter and its Atmos Duo Plus exhaust system: “Here at andMade, our basic way of doing things with the laser cutter is for staff members to receive from members the material they wish to cut and the data for their designs. Once that has happened, it is the staff who usually operate the machinery. That being said, we are greatly assisted in operating the machinery in that even new members of staff can get a handle on operating the laser with just a single training session.
It is also possible for our members to make bookings to use the laser cutter. Among those who are involved in garments and accessories, there are some who are yet to be accustomed to digital equipment. However, in that our staff are always on hand to assist in operations, even those members who have no idea themselves can make use of the cutter. Accordingly, I’ve heard a great many of them spread the word that in using the laser, it becomes possible to accurately give form to ideas.”
Furthermore, there is also lots of use of the laser cutter in combination with the facility’s textile printer and UV printer. In other words, designs printed on the textile printer can be accurately cut out with the cutter, while the printing of acrylic can be completed using the UV printer that is located close by the Trotec Speedy 360.
As to a usage of the Trotec laser cutter and Atmos Duo Plus exhaust system combination that is unique to the andMade co-working space, one example is the creation of neck tags (brand tags that are hung from the neckline of apparel). Normally, if such elements are ordered commercially, a small production run is often measured in hundreds of units. Among members of the andMade.kitasando co-working space, however, using the laser cutter, they are often produced in much smaller numbers. Using the heat cutter function of the laser cutter, it is possible to cut from fabric the required number of tags that have been printed up on a fabric printer then-and-there.
"To mention something that is perhaps distinctive to facilities that have been established to assist in the creation of items of apparel and accessories, in that not all of our members are fully capable of using the Illustrator graphics package, we tend to field a large number of inquiries about the best practices for creating data. Currently, we are responding to such queries by having our staff assist people, however, in that we would like even those members who have difficulty with Illustrator to be able to fully utilise the facilities, I believe that even more of them in the future will be turned to using the laser cutter because it can be more easily manipulated by using applications, etc. Furthermore, on the issue of processing leather-based materials, although they can be easily processed using a laser cutter, that itself leads to questions regarding how the materials might be best cut and sculpted. Thus, in that small adjustments to processing parameters are necessary when handling fabrics and materials that exhibit different properties, we listen to what members hope to achieve, and do test cutting on the laser cutter. In that our staff conduct testing every time they are presented with new materials, they are also given an opportunity to learn. Roughly one year has passed since this facility opened, and in that our staff are steadily building up their own body of knowledge regarding how our laser cutter can be best used, as we go forward, while searching out interesting applications for the technology within the fashion field, I want us to be even more proactive in deploying what our own Trotec Speedy 360 laser cutter has to offer."- Ms. Arao - andMade.kitasando -