Two new sewing robots have created the first ever autonomously-sewn garments and are set to cause major disruption in the garment manufacturing industry.
While garment manufacturing has long been labor-intensive, it has so far resisted large scale automation.
This all changed this week with two separate companies: Sewbo and SoftWear Automation both reportedly demonstrating the capability for autonomous sewing.
Sewbo released a video yesterday demonstrating their sewing robot completing a shirt without any human intervention.
As well, according to reporting by WWD, SoftWear Automation also demonstrated their capability using a different robotic system to sew the outside seams of jeans together from pattern pieces.
Each company is using a different approach to achieve this capability. Sewbo uses an off-the-shelf robotic arm combined with a commercial sewing machine and temporarily stiffened fabric to simplify the process.
“Our technology will allow manufacturers to create higher-quality clothing at lower costs in less time than ever before,” said Jonathan Zornow, the inventor behind Sewbo.
Meanwhile, SoftWear Automation, which has received backing from both Wal-Mart and the US Department of Defense, utilized a more advanced and complex concept.
Their ‘Automatic Sewing Machine’ makes use of a machine vision system called ‘ThreadVision’ to accurately produce a number of different garment designs repeatedly.
SoftWear’s robot is fully custom-built and is planned to be pared with other robots which will cut and fold material, creating an end-to-end automation solution for the industry.
Millions of garment jobs at risk
Currently millions of people, especially in low-income countries in South East Asia are employed in the garment industry.
A recent ILO report stated that there are currently 9 million people employed in this industry in ASEAN countries, with another approximately 4 million employed in Bangladesh alone.
Should either of these companies manage to commercialize their robotic sewing machines, these jobs would be at significant risk.
If a robot exists which can produce garments at a lower cost than humans in low-income countries, large societal disruptions will result.
Nov 2-3, The NEC (Birmingham)
B&R Industrial Automation Ltd is exhibiting at The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo, the UK’s only dedicated exhibition in response to Industry 4.0,
Showcasing the best solution providers and technology offerings, this unique FREE event is for manufacturing business leaders keen to adopt the relevant tools and knowledge to drive business growth.
- Learn about how Industry 4.0 can improve your business
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- Hear how other manufacturers are dealing with the fourth industrial revolution
- Network with new suppliers, customers and business partners
- Compare solutions across every product sector
- Watch live demonstrations of the latest products & how they integrate with each other
- Arrange face-to-face appointments with key suppliers
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