These automated T-Shirt worklines are engineered to construct a T-Shirt every 22 seconds

These automated T-Shirt worklines are engineered to construct a T-Shirt every 22 seconds

Atlanta-based robotics firm SoftWear Automation is seeking to collaborate and partner with European manufacturers, brands and retailers as it extends its fully autonomous Sewbot T-shirt workline to the continent for the first time.

The company's foray into Europe will focus on its digital T-Shirt manufacturing capability, which has the potential to create local supply chains, as well as new capabilities, from cut fabric to finished goods.

These automated T-Shirt worklines are engineered to construct a T-Shirt every 22 seconds, the company says, adding: "In factory floor terms, that's 200% faster than manual construction with one-tenth the labour."

Automating the labour-intensive sewing operation and siting the production process as close as possible to the final retailer, geographically shortens the distance to consumers and supports the company's 'SewLocal' mission – with the latest move dubbed 'SewLocal Europe.'

SoftWear Automation is also focusing on T-shirts because consumers buy 11.5bn worldwide each year and, in Western markets such as the US and EU, the vast majority of products sold are imported.

"Today I can offer you ten ways to better optimise your Asian factory, but only one to meet future customer expectations," explains chief commercial officer Pete Santora.

"The ability to localise production or fabricate goods on site will be the only way to solve future customer expectations. This goes for any supply chain (fashion or not).

"There is a fundamental business model change coming and it creates immense opportunity. However it also creates risk, and the teams that succeed will find ways to offset risk while they move forward securing their future."

CEO Palaniswamy 'Raj' Rajan has previously told just-style the automated 'Sewbot' driven worklines and workcells can tackle a wide range of garment manufacturing challenges including the shortage of skilled labour, the financial and environmental cost of transporting products and material over long-distances, and the increasing need for smaller production runs, more customisation and flexibility for design changes, faster turnaround times and reduced inventory requirements.

Work is currently underway to set up the first robotic T-shirt workline in the US with Chinese manufacturing giant TianYuan Garment Company, the largest producer of apparel for Adidas worldwide.

SoftWear Automation is also taking global pre-orders for its new Digital Footwear Upper Workline – which it says can produce a shoe upper 11 times faster than template sewing.