What are Digital Materials Libraries?

If you don’t have the right materials, you can’t build an excellent product. To create something truly exceptional, you need to have the right tools at your fingertips. Digital materials libraries make this possible by providing a central repository for materials, whether that’s ingredients and formulations for food and cosmetics companies or fabrics for apparel manufacturers.

Digital materials libraries put all the building blocks you need to create product designs in one location. The designer has complete visibility and control over the components they use to complete the design. The result is a faster product design cycle with less inefficiency.

However, many enterprises are still using outdated legacy solutions and manual processes to manage materials. There is a heavy reliance on physical processes where materials are shipped from location to location. As a consequence, these companies face a complex product design cycle with specialized file types and applications managed with disparate systems.

Digital materials are just another type of content that can be managed with Content Services Platform (CSP), which forces companies to adopt digital solutions to access these materials. Without a unified digital solution, the processes are siloed and slow. Lack of transparency makes it much harder for designers to create quality designs and increases the time taken to bring a product to market. A streamlined product design cycle starts with a digital materials library.

The “Disparate Systems” Problem: 3 Companies’ Stories

When we talked to large consumer goods companies about Product Asset Management (PAM), we found that many companies were frustrated with trying to manage designs through multiple applications while being beholden to downstream demands. More specifically, the enterprises we spoke to had the following problems:

Company #1: A major cosmetics manufacturer
Project design delays were commonplace. Designers often referenced materials and ingredients that weren’t available anymore. Poor visibility also meant designers were unaware of new materials and ingredients they could use for designs.

Company #2: An accessories and footwear company
It was extremely difficult to view textures and material test data side-by-side with logistics data, such as information on the supplier, availability, and color. They wasted lots of time manually piecing together information from separate sources.

Company #3: An apparel company
Designers needed to send a request to a siloed materials team before they could use a material for a design. Then, designers could only approve designs after a swatch was ordered and tiled to a larger square. Downstream demands made it much more difficult for designers to experiment.

In other words, non-integrated materials libraries from multiple data sources weren’t designer-friendly, and every mistake dragged projects out longer. The only way to rectify the problem and to eliminate the silos was to digitize their materials into a digital library, with 3D renderings and texture scans.

Use Your Design Process to Work Smarter!

Building a digital material library is a critical step for maximizing productivity during the product design life cycle.

Rather than asking designers to hop from software-to-software to put together designs, you can make the process smarter with a single digital platform to pull together materials from multiple solutions. More visibility stops the downstream havoc so you can work smarter and not harder.

The Future: Digital Materials Libraries built with Content Services Platforms

The needs of designers need to be at the heart of your solution. A designer need to be able to use, catalog, and modify compound files. For instance, the user could create a materials directory object with 3D rendering alongside image files, and examples of the material featured in previous designs.

With full access to current and past materials used in designs, designers and downstream teams will have access to all the information they need. It’s also easier to communicate. Compound files can be shared with colleagues or external vendors, displaying materials in context.

Your colleagues should be able to leave comments on designs to give their feedback. Streamlined communication eliminates siloing and gives designers real-time input on their designs. Instant communication helps to create a product that hits the brief.

The Nuxeo Content Services Platform helps companies get products to market faster through an intelligent design process. Our platform can develop and sync multiple materials libraries with content ranging from 2D images to 3D renderings and texture scans. Users can manage internal and external sources in one unified collaboration space.

Read this brief if you want to find out how the Nuxeo Platform can help you to speed up your product asset management with a digital materials library.