Sewing robots will soon arrive at your door, thanks to the efforts of Siemens AG and fashion designers Levi Strauss & Co. The Sewbo machine has been tested, praised, and even criticized across the board.
Eugen Solowjow, who heads a project at a Siemens lab in San Francisco that has been working on automating apparel (sewing robots) manufacturing since 2018, discovered that clothing was one of the best targets for a software that guides robots that can handle all types of flexible materials, such as thin wire cables. The concept gained traction during the pandemic as clogged supply chains highlighted the dangers of relying on distant factories.
Siemens collaborated with the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute in Pittsburgh, which was founded in 2017 and is funded by the Department of Defense to assist old-line manufacturers in figuring out how to use new technology. They discovered a San Francisco startup with an intriguing solution to the floppy fabric problem. Rather than teaching robots how to handle cloth, Sewbo Inc. stiffens the fabric with chemicals during production so it can be handled more like a car bumper. When finished, the garment is washed to remove the stiffening agent.
This research effort eventually grew to include several clothing companies, including Levi’s and Bluewater Defense LLC, a small military uniform manufacturer based in the United States. Even Software Automation Inc, a Georgia-based startup, has created a machine capable of sewing T-shirts by pulling the material over a specially equipped table.
The sources for this piece include an article in Reuters.