The use of robots in the apparel supply chain isn’t exactly news, and in fact we’ve blogged about it several times. But the following story provides a timely twist given the new administration’s push to bolster the number of products made in the U.S.
It’s no secret that most apparel is made elsewhere – a whopping 97 percent according to several reports. The number one reason? Labor costs. But what if those costs were removed. Would manufacturing reshore here?
The creator of sewbo thinks so. Sewbo is a process that chemically stiffens fabrics in order to allow automated sewing robots to produce a full garment. Rather than getting a robot to sew like a human, a process that is fraught with difficulty, this inventor manipulated the materials used by the robot, easing the manufacture of products like apparel.
Barely a year old, sewbo has already generated interest from manufacturers looking to produce in the United States. Interest, however, doesn’t always result in action. The process is expensive, and the method is still too arcane for an industry that embraces the traditional. Moreover, sewbo doesn’t work on all fabrics, including wool, limiting its usefulness.
With all the talk surrounding reshoring, we wondered: are garment-sewing robots what Washington has in mind in its call to make things here again? It’s a good read: