Robots are stepping up to the plate to conquer another area of business, and many humans could lose their jobs in the coming years. A company known as SoftWear Automation, which is a spin-off from Georgia Tech, has decided to build robots with the ability to sew.
At some point in 2018, the company will have a small army of robots designed to shake-up the clothing industry and turn it on its head. For starters, the machines will use their skills to create T-Shirts and lots of them.
The report claims each droid can make a T-Shirt in just 22 seconds, which is faster than any single human. If this turns out to be true, then humans working on clothes makers should consider a new profession.
Robots have failed at sewing for decades
Over the years, we’ve slowly witnessed the addition of machines in several business sectors. However, they’ve mostly worked well when manipulating rigid objects instead of soft and flexible materials.
Companies have tried in the past to fix this issue by adding starch to clothing materials to make them stiff enough for robots to handle. However, this plan failed, and as such, machines have been largely kept away from manufacturing these wonderful clothes we wear every day.
One important reason why robots have yet to conquer sewing is because the clothing industry chose to rely on cheap labor from China and other countries instead of focusing more on technology.
SoftWear Automation to the rescue
The company claims it has built a practical sewing robot that doesn’t require the use of starch. Instead, the system relies on advanced manipulators and machine vision to get things done. We should point out that the sewing machines are called Sewbots.
We understand the robots are located at a factory in Arkansas that is owned by one of China’s largest apparel manufacturers, Tianyuan Garments Co.
Additionally, SoftWear Automation hopes to have up to 21 production lines running before the end of 2018 that are capable of delivering 23 million T-Shirts per year for Adidas.
“Around the world, even the cheapest labor market can’t compete with us,” Tang Xinhong, chairman of Tianyuan, told China Daily last year, referring to the cost of producing each T-shirt, which he expected to be only 33 U.S. cents.
“The fact that a Chinese company will use robots to make T-shirts in the United States appears to be a watershed moment for the clothing industry,” according to Satyandra K. Gupta, director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at the University of Southern California.
Should we walk into a garment shop today, one will come across several human workers doing their best to make the clothes we so love to wear. However, what happens when robots take over and these people begin to slowly lose their jobs?
No one has a straight answer, but the consensus at this time is that humans must prepare for the inevitable.
SoftWear Automation says it hopes to have its robots working on jeans, uniforms, and dress shirts in the distant future.