Typical application of the AO5 robot: the world's first automated garment system

From ancient times to the present, sewing clothes have always been done by humans. Perhaps you will be surprised by this, in the ubiquity of automation, the garment industry has always been artificially dominated. The reason is that the fabric material is mostly soft and elastic, which makes the robot unable to process it accurately.

Last week at the opening of New York Fashion Week, a Seattle-based startup, Sewbo, announced that it had developed the world's first automated garment system.

Jonathan Zornow, the inventor of the garment system, said that automation is not widely used in this area due to the particularity of fabric materials. For simple fabrics, such as car and airplane seat covers, they can be automated on a large scale, but robots can't help with clothes that are stitched together in many shapes.

So the most critical part of the whole system is the textile material. As you can see from the dynamic diagram, this material is more like cardboard than soft fabric. Sewbo has created materials that can temporarily maintain a hard state, making it easier for industrial robots to make clothes.

During the garment making process, the fabric is treated by a special hardening process, and the robot arm picks up, lowers it, and hands it to the sewing machine. The clothes that have just been made do not seem to be worn, but the robotic arm puts it in hot water and the fabric becomes soft.

Zornow says this hardening process works for almost all fabrics. This includes cotton, polyester, denim, lace and some furniture fabrics. But this technology does not work on fabrics that cannot be wetted, such as leather and waterproof fabrics.

However, the robot arm in this system was not developed by Sewbo itself, but the UR5 small assembly robot from Universal Robots . This 6-axis articulated robot is usually used to handle some light tasks, such as picking up a thing and placing it. In fact, any programmable robotic arm can be applied to this garment system.

“If you need a robot to make more complex shapes in 3D space, you may need to use all 6 axes, but a lot of sewing work takes place in the 2D plane space, so the number of axes used will be less. "Zornow said.

Zornow said that this automated garment solution is long-awaited in the industry, and his system will revolutionize the global garment industry.

First, for manufacturers, the entire system avoids labor-related problems, shortens the supply chain, and reduces the complexity of the global supply network. In addition, digital manufacturing will also subvert the fashion industry. Designing clothing in the future is not just the exclusive right of the designer, because once the system can run on a large scale, customization will become extremely simple and cheap for everyone. It will also drive the transformation of the way consumers buy clothes.

There are already military forces interested in producing uniforms with Sewbo, and Zornow said that Sewbo's main job in the future is to license the patent to the manufacturer.

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