The U.S. continues to lose apparel manufacturing to international suppliers who offer lower wage costs; however, the apparel industry is ripe for automation. Current processes see human workers touching each piece of fabric and manually picking and placing. This team is working towards an automated, low-cost solution.
Current processes rely on manual labor that is tedious, uncomfortable, and slow, leading to high employee turnover. Additionally, manufacturers cannot afford costly, one-off robotic solutions. This project team seeks to catalyze an automated solution that minimizes custom hardware.
This project team developed an end effector that can pick and place fabric and interlining piece parts and fabric bolts onto the fusing machine conveyor. The team developed open source software modules that can program robots from multiple vendors and leverage collaborative robots that can be easily positioned.
Lead: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Partners: Interface Technologies, Hickey Freeman