Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, Inc. (AFFOA) will implement PTC's industry-leading FlexPLM platform to support its mission to revolutionize domestic manufacturing in America. FlexPLM will serve as the core of AFFOA's program targeting the digital transformation of traditional fibers, yarns, and textiles into integrated technology systems for consumer and military use.
Across its Cambridge, Mass., headquarters, and its Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Center at Drexel University, AFFOA’s team of engineers, material scientists, and textile designers will use PTC FlexPLM to replace ad-hoc legacy systems and processes, and as a tool for both internal collaboration and the secure sharing of technical data with government agencies, its members and external vendors.
As a non-profit Institute, AFFOA’s objective is the creation of a sustainable, scalable, high-tech ecosystem for the research, development, and world-leading domestic production of innovative functional fabrics. In this role, AFFOA supports its members – which range from consumer product companies and startups to manufacturers and academic institutions – in transitioning from working with traditional fibers and textiles, to creating value-add products and services through the integration of semiconductors, “smart” yarns and other networked devices and systems. These integrated systems will give rise to new innovations in energy storage and conversion, temperature regulation, health monitoring, and cosmetic advances such as color-changing garments.
This technical complexity demanded a level of precision and multi-product architecture above and beyond the scope of traditional apparel and retail PLM systems. And since AFFOA receives funding from the US Department of Defense, its data must be standardized and transparent to a degree that inflexible databases could not support. These were key selection criteria in AFFOA’s decision to implement PTC FlexPLM, as VP of Manufacturing Operations, Tsachi Avrahami, explains:
“Advanced functional fabrics exist on the cutting edge of technical innovation, and we are supporting our members in researching, creating, and commercializing new and competitive categories of textile products that can see, hear, sense, and communicate – for everyone from the commercial consumer to the combat soldier. To achieve our aims, we needed a PLM platform that could accommodate advanced fabrics, e-textiles, and embedded electronics all in a single location. We knew that PTC FlexPLM was the most secure and commonly-used PLM solution in retail, so we were impressed to also discover that it was the only system that could handle everything we needed. FlexPLM will be an essential component in our vision of bringing cutting-edge new materials and integrated fabric products to market quickly and efficiently.”
AFFOA will initially use FlexPLM across its locations and a range of different disciplines and its users will leverage FlexPLM as a single system of record, as well as a tool for remote collaboration and external communication. Both of these workflows demand the deepest commitment to security – a requirement that FlexPLM was uniquely equipped to meet.
Bill Brewster, Senior Vice President and General Manager of PTC’s Retail Business Unit, explains:
“PTC has always strived to forge ahead in technology and process innovation, so we found a kindred spirit in AFFOA. FlexPLM has the broadest functional footprint of any retail PLM platform, and we are proud of our legacy of supporting the planet’s most advanced enterprises in developing new and innovative products. PTC has also invested heavily in ensuring that FlexPLM and our cloud architecture both meet the exacting security standards needed by corporate and government users – from ISO: 27001 certification for our data centers, to enterprise-grade encryption. This means that AFFOA’s users and members, whether they are developing new systems for the battlefield, or domestic PPE production for pandemic preparedness under the CARES act, can collaborate and share with total confidence.”
Beyond AFFOA’s own use of FlexPLM, the agreement also provides an onramp for the AFFOA member network of US manufacturers to access the capabilities of FlexPLM.