Watch a robot sew a shirt from start to finish. CNNMoney video

Sewbo, a robotic sewing arm, is part of an automated system that can manufacture clothing without any human labor.

Sewbo, Inc. it has used an industrial robot to sew together a T-shirt, achieving the long-sought goal of automation for garment production.

Major Breakthrough in Clothing Manufacturing

SEATTLE – Sewbo Inc. on Thursday announced that it has achieved the long-sought goal of automated sewing, by using an industrial robot to sew together a T-shirt. This milestone represents the first time that a robot has been used to sew an entire article of clothing.

Despite widespread use in other industries, automation has failed to find a place in apparel manufacturing due to robots’ inability to handle limp, flexible fabrics. Sewbo avoids these hurdles by temporarily stiffening fabrics, making it easy for conventional robots to build clothes as if they were made from sheet metal. Afterwards, the process is reversed to produce soft, fully assembled garments.

“Our technology will allow manufacturers to create higher-quality clothing at lower costs in less time than ever before,” said Jonathan Zornow, the technology’s inventor. “Avoiding labor issues and shortening supply chains will help reduce the complexity and headaches surrounding today’s intricate global supply network. And digital manufacturing will revolutionize fashion, even down to how we buy our clothes by allowing easy and affordable customization for everyone.”

Sewbo performed their feat using an off-the-shelf industrial robot, which they taught to operate a consumer sewing machine. Having successfully proved its core concept, Sewbo is now expanding its team and working towards commercializing its technology.

About Sewbo Inc.: Sewbo is a Seattle-based startup. Learn more at sewbo.com

Jonathan Zornow is the 30 year-old inventor behind Sewbo. He came up with the solution to automating garment manufacturing while reading about temporary support materials for 3D printers, which are water-soluble plastics that could be melted and molded. These materials let 3D printers build things that would otherwise be impossible, and he thought that the same concept could be applied to the garment industry.

This would ultimately prove to be a successful approach – but not before many long nights of tinkering, including a crowded stretch where he shared his tiny NYC studio apartment/workshop with a rented industrial robot.

Zornow studied economics and studio art at Brandeis University, where his sculpture thesis was a fresco-making machine called “Robotecelli.”

 CNNMoney video

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