The Clothing Creator is automated process for apparel manufacturing, a machine to make clothing without direct human intervention. The Clothing Creator system goes from bolt of cloth to a finish garment in a 45-second cycle that combines 3D fabric molding and ultrasonics to affect the cutting/seaming. Though, the technologies have been used throughout the industry and inherent to thermoplastic materials, our innovation addresses the material handling challenge and a way to integrate them into a complete manufacturing system. The process would easily lend itself to functional work clothing, military uniforms, activewear, athletic apparel, medical disposables, haz-mat/cleanroom protective garments and the eventual development for mass-customization of clothing. This volume oriented, flexible mass production system for garment production will have the capacity to produce garments of higher quality, quicker production lead-times and lower production costs than conventional cut and sew methods.
With the adoption of this technology there could be a renaissance for the US apparel/textile manufacturing industry by on-shoring production and domestic job creation.
Spandex – athletic apparel, swimwear, outdoor wear*
The first generation machine will have the capacity for continual replication of exact copies of designed product that converts 2D fabrics into soft/flexible 3D garments. The Clothing Creator will accommodate a variety of knit, woven and non-woven materials that contain synthetic fibers; polyester, nylon, polypropylene, spandex and some natural/synthetic blends, all off-the-shelf materials. Additionally, with the development of new smart fibers/fabrics tending to be synthetic in construction, the process has the potential to produce a whole new class of functionally oriented garments that would be prohibitive by conventional cut and sew processes.
The process is flexible in fabricating a variety of types of garments, ranging from loose-fitting styles to highly contoured designs. The three-dimensional format of the process will be particularly well suited to traditionally heavily constructed garments, since the built-in memory of the fabric will not be affected by repeated washings, drying, dry cleaning or ironing. The process will also establish a new aesthetic vocabulary for the fashion designer. One that the designer already models in a 3D format on a computer and could go directly to a finished 3D garment to better fit the human body better, as well as, offer increased performance and added comfort.
At present 98%** of domestic apparel consumption is outsourced and made oversees. This adds up to over $282.2 billion dollars worth of product at retail and over 20.7 billions garments that are imported. Additionally, garment production has always been a volatile and deadly business, with child labor law violations, numerous tragic factory fires and building collapses in 3rd world nations and environmental challenges that have been front-page news of late. There is now a growing demand from consumers, retailers and governments alike to clean up this industry and produce garments in a safe and productive way. Additionally, the process would greatly reduce lead-times; significantly reduce energy consumption, transportation/inventory times and associated costs. Because of the compact nature of the machine, roughly the size of a pickup truck, the opportunity to decentralize production also exists. You could have small pilot plants in locations where production is required. As an example, a hospital could have a machine onsite and produce disposable surgical scrubs on-demand or drop in a whole system offsite for emergency response situations.
As in any circumstance where automation is integraded into manufacturing, the goal is to minimize the direct labor component during production. However, we do anticipate job creation related to the operating of the equipment for apparel production in domestic factories, additional production of domestic fibers, textiles and ancillary related suppliers, engineering and manufacturing of the Clothing Creator equipment systems and all segments of fashion design and marketing related to on-shoring of production.
As a futuristic scenario, if a consumer wanted a custom cycling jersey, they could collect a dozen soda bottles and recycle them into a hopper, which would grind them back into polymer pellets, which could then be extruded into fiber, which could then be woven/knit/processed into fabric, which could then be fed directly into the Clothing Creator machine, which would have flexible molds to accommodate the varied sizes and styles. The consumer could then step on a platform to have their body 3D scanned and with a fashion designers’ input or software suggestions from the consumer, print on-demand graphic patterns on the fabrics, to create a unique garment in real-time and immediate production. At present, all of these processes exist except on the garment production side. This is what we are proposing to accomplish.
Nonwoven – medical disposables, health-care products, haz-mat, clean-room/protective garments*
- Reduce production and supply chain costs
- Reduce lead time for production runs
- Reduce energy costs/demand associated with shipping/warehousing
- Decentralize manufacturing facilities
- Capacity to make a new style of garment designs
- Increase quality/functionality of garments
- Potential for mass customization of garments
- Job creation
- Made in the USA garments
- US utility patent on process ***
- Engineering of machine layout
- Computer animation of machine process
- Located vendors for machine components
- Located machine shops capable of engineering/producing the machine
- Selected target markets where technology could be applied
- Produced prototype garments*
Our goals are to:
- Produce cost benefit analysis comparing Clothing Creator to cut & sew processes
- Build and test prototype equipment
- Set-up a pilot plant facility to simulate a true production environment
- Develop a joint venture with existing companies in apparel/textile industry
- License technology and related information
- Secure updated patents
This work has been funded under the aegis of:
- National Science Foundation, (SBIR) Small Business Innovation Research Program
- U.S. Department of Energy, (ERIP) Energy Related Inventions Program
- New York State Science and Technology Foundation, matching SBIR grant
- New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, matching ERIP grant
* Prototype garments made by simulating the process
** American Apparel and Footwear Association, 2015
*** Expired in 1995 due to unpaid fees
Brett Stern is the inventor of the technology and founder of Team BS, Portland, OR.