Aeronaut Automation

Automated Cutting Systems & Software

Proliner. 3D digitisers for rapid patterning.

The Proliner from ProDim is a simple measuring device which can be used to quickly and easily digitise 3D shapes which can be flattened to produce 2D patterns ready for automated cutting.

    • One Person Operation


    • Easy to learn and quick to use.


    • Not affected by wind like a tape measure.


    • Accurate to around 1 mm.


    • Digitises real patterns, not point clouds.


  • Works with Standard CAD software.

Aeronaut distributes the Proliner devices to industries using industrial textiles because we believe that the Proliner offers some significant advantages over other methods of measuring 3D shape. This opens the door to rapid patterning and automated cutting for industries who could otherwise not use these production advantages.

One of our first customers for the Proliner had this to say:

"One person, one visit. The shape is on the computer ready immediately when the go-ahead is given. It is a massive saving of time effort and money. The pools are being measure in 3-4 minutes. So do not think the tool is not appropriate. For us it is the measuring device we have waited 10 years for! Our measuring process is finally digitised!!!!"



So what is the Proliner?

We refer to it as an intelligent stick on a string! You need only one operator to measure almost all objects. In one hand you have the pointer or probe. The tip of this probe is connected by a wire to the Proliner which ensures that the wire is always under tension.

The position of the wire is measured by the Proliner; the length of the wire, and its angular deflection in the horizontal and vertical planes. In this way, the Proliner knows the exact position of the tip of the probe in 3D space.

In the operator's other hand is a "puck," a thing a bit like a car key with four buttons.

When a button is pressed on the puck, a point or co-ordinate is recorded by the Proliner. The operator can either work point by point by point, or by holding down a different button and moving the probe on the shape which is being measured, points can be continuously recorded.

The important thing to understand about this is that the probe is not some delicate instrument packed with switches and electronics which can get damaged or go wrong it is just a piece of aluminium on a wire an intelligent stick on a string.

For some shapes, it is necessary to move the Proliner between measuring sessions. It is easy to join two or more patterns in software, so complex shapes can be patterned as easily as simple ones. You can use the Proliner to measure flat or 2D shapes as well as 3D shapes, so existing templates can be digitised too.

What about the flattening?

In fact, this is the really important bit!

If you are working in fabric, the most important thing about a 3D shape, is what it looks like when it is flattened into something you can cut and join together. There are two main ways of doing this. One is using a 3D program which can both model the 3D shapes and then flatten them, probably adding seam allowances to the flattened panels. Programs such as TouchCAD, Rhino and some more expensive alternatives can do this but you need to be prepared to invest some time in learning 3D CAD design.

TouchCAD boat hood

The alternative to this is to work mainly in 2D. There are arguments for both methods, but it is probable that people used to working with paper or plastic patterns are going to find it easier and quicker to think and work in 2D rather than 3D. The software and the learning curve areeasier.

What this means is that instead of measuring a shape, developing a 3D model, and then draping it with fabric, what you do is to measure just for 2D patterns. The operator digitises in patterns with a knowledge of where seam lines and panel joins are going to be.

An example is a set of steps from a swimming pool. The traditional method of measuring this is using plastic sheet. The plastic is laid over the steps and marked out, then cut to fit. The pattern is then redrawn in the pool liner fabricator's CAD system and the patterns added to the queue of patterns for the rest of the liner. A slow and inaccurate process.

Pool steps digitised with a Proliner

Using the Proliner, it takes around 30 seconds to digitise these steps as a 3D shape. The file is imported into CAD software and flattened. 15-30 seconds at the most. And that is all. There is no 3D model because the 2D pattern was the item which was digitised.

Pool steps flattened by Aeronaut software

Where necessary, string lines or tapes are used to mark where edges, details and seams are going to be. In 99% of cases, the operator knows where the seams have to be, before the job is measured. Since the shapes are going to be made from fabric, the digitising and flattening is then simple and logical.

Aeronaut has developed some very simple CAD plug-in tools which import 3D shapes and flatten them to 2D. Typically, the process takes around 15 seconds from importing the 3D shape to having a 2D pattern. The flattening process works on grouped shapes. This means if you have measured a large shape which has many internal details, both the main shape and internal details are all flattened at the same time in perfect registration.

The Proliner system takes only a few minutes to learn. Working out how to make the measurements can take a few moments of thought. For example, where do you put the Proliner when you are measuring? How do you make sure your arms or body doesnt get in the way? In fact, most of these questions are very easily solved and existing users report huge savings in time and increases in accuracy. In many cases, the Proliner has allowed shapes to be digitised which could otherwise not be economically patterned, meaning businesses could take on new work.

The Proliner comes in two versions, the Proliner 5 and the Proliner 8. Both machines have similar capabilities and the main difference from the outside is that the Proliner 5 has a wire length of 5 metres and the Proliner 8 was a wire length of 7 metres. The Proliner 8 has more built-in features than the Proliner 5, and is more suited to operation on site where there is no access to a laptop since it can save direct to a USB stick.

Aeronaut normally has a demonstration Proliner in stock, so if you are interested in seeing what the Proliner can do for your business, call us and see for yourself. Please email us, or call. See the Contact Us menu at the top of the page for all contact details.

Download the Proliner 8 brochure

Download a magazine article about using the Proliner