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Robots should be able to sew at about the same rate as conventional factories
Sewbo Inc, a Seattle-based technology start-up, developed an industrial robot to sew a T-shirt, achieving the long-sought goal of automation for garment production. Jonathan Zornow, inventor, Sewbo Inc, shares details about his latest innovation and prospects of automation shortening lengthy lead times.
How did you come up with the idea of a Sewbo?
I started considering the issue after watching the How It’s Made on blue jeans. I was inspired to find the solution by an article on temporary, water-soluble 3D printed support scaffolding.
What is the kind of response you have received for Sewbo?
The response has been overwhelming. I have heard from companies at every level of the supply chain, from all over the world. There seems to be a great demand for automation in the apparel industry.
The Sewbo website demonstrates a robot sewing a basic T-shirt. Can this technology be used to stitch other complex styles?
The simplicity of a T-shirt made it a natural choice for a proof-of-concept, but the technology should be applicable to a wide range of sewn products.
Does stiffening the fabric with a non-toxic polymer change the final product and its finish?
The treatment is a relatively mild process, and we have not seen major changes. However, it does require some wetting and washing so it is only suitable for materials that can be rinsed thoroughly in warm water.
How many basic T-shirts can Sewbo stitch on an average day? What is the time taken to stitch a T-shirt using Sewbo in comparison to time taken to stitch manually?
At the prototype stage, the assembly process is still quite slow. When it’s in factories, robots should be able to sew at about the same rate as conventional factories.
What is the cost of installing Sewbo in a factory? What kind of supervision or monitoring is required?
Costs are dependent on specific applications and scale, with the size of the operations. Supervisors are required to manage production, make sure the machines are provided with appropriate supplies, replace broken needles and things like that. Supervisors will also be required to confirm the quality of finished goods.
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