The garment industry was formerly assumed to be resistant to the growth and transformation brought about by Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology. With the exception of the advent of electric power for sewing machines, the industry has altered relatively little since the 1800s industrial revolution.
However, with the arrival of sewing robots in 2018, things began to change. The creation of these sewing robots demonstrates how some firms have solved the problems that have long impeded the broad use of automation in the garment industry.
Many worries have been raised about the future of the garment business now that fully automated sewing machines have been shown to be employed in the sector.
How many seams are really closed using a sewing machine?
What are the advantages of using machine stitching?
Are sewing robots a threat to human textile workers?
Sewing Machines That Work Mechanically
A variety of issues may contribute to the sluggish adoption of sewing robots by customers. Sewing is a complex skill that requires human talent and understanding.
One significant disadvantage of cloth is its lack of stiffness. Fabric may be handled in a variety of ways due to its malleability. Furthermore, there may be concerns with the textiles that need to be addressed. Aligning panels to match patterns, and adding buttonholes, grommets, zippers, and other embellishments all add additional steps and the possibility of mistakes. All of these activities are simple for a human pair of eyes and experienced hands to do, but they are incredibly difficult for a machine.
A crucial factor is the practically limitless variety of textiles available. Because of differences in thickness, elasticity, and wave pattern, various textiles need distinct techniques. Another impediment to automation in the textile sector was the absence of a robot capable of handling a broad range of materials without affecting final product quality.
Engineers have long attempted to devise a suitable method for doing these jobs in a timely and cost-effective manner. Although automation is not new in the garment business, it has hitherto been limited to tasks such as fabric cutting. The textile industry has been slow to adopt technology and automate the manufacturing cycle from fabric to completed garment.
However, a few solutions were offered, and fully automated sewing machines hit the market in 2018.
An Explanation of Sewing Machines
As of this writing, there are two ways for making computerized sewing machines easier to operate. Several approaches to typical challenges with computerized sewing machines serve as inspiration for these concepts.
Software Automation, a new firm based in Atlanta, has developed a robot dubbed LOWRY. The robot can make a completed T-shirt in under two minutes from raw cloth. LOWRY uses a slew of high-speed vision cameras to deliver input to the actuators. The cameras capture hundreds of photographs each second, providing LOWRY with a comprehensive picture of the fabric’s position so that it may make fine-tuned modifications as needed. This robot has a half-millimeter resolution.
Tianyuan Garments in Suzhou, China, now has 21 automated sewing machine lines owing to a recent Software investment. They manufacture the majority of Adidas gear. The new automated sewing machine is projected to boost the company’s output to 800,000 shirts per day.
As an alternative, Jonathan Zornow, a Seattle software engineer, has created Sewbo, an industrial robot. He devised a method of manipulating the fabric such that it could be used in a mechanized sewing machine, overcoming the challenges of dealing with a nonrigid material.
A water-soluble stiffener is used to stiffen the cloth momentarily. The robot may treat the cloth as if it were a stiff substance such as metal or plastic using this way. The fabric pieces may be cut, flipped, sewn, and moved precisely by the robot. After the stiffener has been removed, immersing the final garment in hot water relaxes the cloth.
Sewing automation robots offer various advantages.
According to SoftWear’s studies, organizations that automate their manufacturing processes get various advantages.
It claims that one of its robots can make 1,142 T-shirts in under eight hours. To generate the same amount of T-shirts as a robot, ten people operating at the maximum pace would be necessary. Automated technology allows for higher output while considerably lowering costs. According to estimates, a fully automated sewing machine will only cost $0.33 to manufacture one T-shirt.
In comparison to the ever-increasing price in other low-wage labor marketplaces throughout the globe, this one is a value. Using an automated sewing system may help businesses save money and bring manufacturing closer to headquarters.
However, there are still barriers that will hinder the transition to an all-automated system. The fashion business is constantly developing; some firms even produce brand-new collections on a weekly basis. Organizations that depend on sewing robots must regularly update the robots’ software with new rules whenever a new fashion trend is required.
Even when selecting a robot that needs a fabric stiffener, there are limits. Wool and leather, for example, cannot be placed in water and must be handled by hand instead.
Before determining whether or not to invest in a sewing robot, firms must weigh the benefits and drawbacks of transitioning to a fully automated manufacturing line.