Robot stitches first complete garment

In a major breakthrough in clothing manufacturing, a Seattle, US based technology start-up has announced that it has achieved the long-sought goal of automated sewing. The company achieved this milestone by using an industrial robot to sew together a t-shirt. It is the first time that a robot has been used to sew an entire article of clothing.



Despite widespread use in other industries, automation has failed to find a place in apparel manufacturing due to robots’ inability to handle limp, flexible fabrics. The start-up company Sewbo avoids these hurdles by temporarily stiffening fabrics, making it easy for conventional robots to build clothes as if they were made from sheet metal. Afterwards, the process is reversed to produce soft, fully assembled garments.

“Our technology will allow manufacturers to create higher-quality clothing at lower costs in less time than ever before,” said Jonathan Zornow, the technology’s inventor. “Avoiding labour issues and shortening supply chains will help reduce the complexity and headaches surrounding today’s intricate global supply network. And digital manufacturing will revolutionise fashion, even down to how we buy our clothes by allowing easy and affordable customisation for everyone.”

Sewbo performed their feat using an off-the-shelf industrial robot, which they taught to operate a consumer sewing machine. Having successfully proved its core concept, Sewbo is now expanding its team and working towards commercialising its technology.
 

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