Large textiles company and supplier to Adidas orders Soft Wear Automation’s robotic sewing system

The textiles industry was one of the first and perhaps most famous examples of automation, having brought in the loom that so incensed the Luddites. 

But in the centuries since, the level of automation in textiles hasn’t really changed much, and the machines could only do the relatively simple tasks.

The automation machines available to the textiles industry today can be used in many parts of the process, from cutting to overlocking and so on, but the main thing they cannot yet do with equivalent skill is sewing.  Continue reading Large textiles company and supplier to Adidas orders Soft Wear Automation’s robotic sewing system

Higher wages and pressure to bring back manufacturing to the US could result in millions of job losses in clothes-making industry in Asia

A combination of higher wages in Asian countries and a trend for bringing back manufacturing to the US could dismantle large parts of Asian economies, many of which depend on the textiles and clothes manufacturing trades for huge portion of their national income. 

An interesting video report by the Financial Times points to this possible future, but adds that in practice, for now, “almost all of the world’s T-shirts and jeans by millions of cheap workers, mostly women, watching over sewing machines”.

And beyond T-shirts and jeans, the vast majority of jobs and tasks in the clothes manufacturing sector in general is still done by humans.  Continue reading Higher wages and pressure to bring back manufacturing to the US could result in millions of job losses in clothes-making industry in Asia

SoftWear Automation raises another $4.5 million and pledges to help bring back manufacturing to the US

SoftWear-Automation 1

SoftWear Automation, an Atlanta-based robotic sewing firm, has received $4.5 million in financing from existing investor, CTW Venture Partners.

The company says funding will accelerate the company’s development of fully automated sewn good worklines specifically for apparel production in the United States.

Additionally, the company plans to add 20 employees to keep pace with growing customer demand.  Continue reading SoftWear Automation raises another $4.5 million and pledges to help bring back manufacturing to the US

Startup claims launch of ‘world’s first robot to sew complete garment’

Sewbo says its development is a major breakthrough in clothing manufacturing 

A startup company in America is claiming to have developed a robotic system which can make complete garments. 

The simple combination of a robot and a sewing machine has resulted in what the owner, Jonathan Zornow, says is “the world’s first robotically-sewn garment”.

Zornow says: “Many people are surprised to learn that this is the very first time that a robot has sewn a piece of clothing.

“Despite decades and millions of dollars worth of industrial research, the big hurdle has been that robots can’t reliably handle fabrics.”  Continue reading Startup claims launch of ‘world’s first robot to sew complete garment’

Tinker, tailor, solder, spry: Adidas uses robotics, automation and 3D printing in advanced manufacturing process

adidas speedfactory robots making trainers

I was a tailor once. Made ladies’ coats. High class. Long, beautiful red, flowing like a cape. Made of wool. For one of the famous stores on Oxford Street, London.

The collars were interesting in that there weren’t any, sort of. The entire edge, or hem, all around the edge of the coat was one long stitch. It was an ankle length coat, so it was a pretty long stitch. It was more like a big shawl with sleeves.

I don’t remember the buttons, but there was another machine for that part of the process. I was just given the cloth parts of the coat by the cutter and just sewed them together using a Brother industrial sewing machine.

At another factory, I used Singer sewing machines to make leather jackets. Working with leather is a much more difficult and complex process. Continue reading Tinker, tailor, solder, spry: Adidas uses robotics, automation and 3D printing in advanced manufacturing process

Kuka robot constructs pavilion by sewing parts together

kuka quantec
Like an oversized sand dollar: the completed research pavilion at the University of Stuttgart. Photo: ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart

Sewing may be one of the oldest technical activities of humankind but it’s not one that robots have yet fully mastered. 

The complexity of sewing, whether it’s sewing by hand or using a machine, is such that robots – or sophisticated sewing machines – can only perform some relatively simple stitches.

But those stitches that the robots or sewing machines can perform are actually very impressive and would be difficult – though not impossible for a human.

On the other hand, a lot of things a human can do – such as stitch together a sleeve and cuff or some other part of the garment, or even sew together the entire garment – is way beyond the realms of possibility for even the most sophisticated robots of today.

Nonetheless, the university in Stuttgart has used Kuka robots to perform a sewing job which can only be described as impressive. Perhaps weird as well, since they stitched together some wood – not a material usually associated with sewing.  Continue reading Kuka robot constructs pavilion by sewing parts together