It’s hard to teach a robot to sew.
Robots are good at handling materials that are rigid and easy to lift, cut and maneuver. It’s why they’re are widely used in auto manufacturing.
But it’s a different story with making clothes. There’s some automation in garment manufacturing, but you still won’t find robots sewing clothes from start to finish.
Why? Fabric is floppy. “It has no corners and edges. It stretches and snags,” said entrepreneur Jonathan Zornow, whose startup Sewbo has found a way around that.
Zornow’s solution was to temporarily stiffen fabric with a water-soluble polymer, making it rigid enough for a robot to handle. “This polymer is already being used in automated textile manufacturing to stiffen yarn,” he said. The substance easily washes out in warm water and returns fabric to its original softness.
Read more: This robot can sew a T-shirt – Oct. 11, 2016