Let’s make MADE IN AMERICA clothing again.
The Clothing Creator is automated process for apparel manufacturing, a machine to make clothing without direct human intervention in a 45-second cycle. The system goes from bolt of cloth to a finish garment and applies 3D fabric molding and ultrasonic bonding technologies to simultaneously affect the shape of the garment and the cutting/seaming of materials, both off-the-shelf components. The process requires the usage of synthetic fabrics, such as, polyester, nylon, spandex and polypropylene and can accommodate a variety of knit, woven and non-woven textiles, all off-the-shelf materials. Although the technologies have been used throughout the industry and are inherent to synthetic materials, our innovation addresses the material handling challenges of traditional cut and sew methods and a way to integrate them into a complete manufacturing system.
This technical shift in production methods will offer apparel companies an opportunity for a volume oriented system of garment production that will have the capacity to produce garments of higher quality, quicker production lead-times and lower production costs than conventional cut and sew methods.
At present, 98+% of apparel that we buy is off-shored, with those domestic apparel jobs and skills lost generations ago and not coming back. Imports of clothing now account for over 17% of the domestic trade deficit.
The goal is 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 & athleisure apparel , swimwear, *
The process is flexible in fabricating a variety of types of garments, ranging from loose-fitting styles to highly contoured design, such as, functional athletic apparel, athleisure wear, sportswear, work clothing, career apparel, military uniforms, medical disposables, haz-mat/cleanroom protective garments and the eventual development for mass- customization of clothing. Because of the compact nature of the machinery, the opportunity to decentralize manufacturing with small pilot plants closer to markets could also exist.
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 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 to better fit the human body, as well as, offer increased performance and added comfort. Additionally, with the development of new smart 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 cost prohibitive with traditional cut and sew techniques.
Nonwoven -medical disposables, health-care products, haz-mat, protective garments*
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, 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.
- Reduction in lead time and inventory
- Reduction in production and supply costs
- Reduction of energy usage associated with production, shipping & distribution
- Decentralize manufacturing facilities
- Capacity to make a new style/fashion of garment designs
- Increase quality and functionality of garments
- Addresses sustainability issues related to production
- Potential for mass customization of garments
- Domestic job creation
- Develop joint ventures with existing Apaprel/textile companies
- Build & test prototype equipment
- Set-up pilot plant and eventual production facility
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
- New York State Energy Research & Development Authority
* Prototype garments made by simulating the process
Brett Stern is the inventor of the technology and founder of Team BS LLC, Portland, OR.