Apparel products are consumer products with a large number of scattered supply chains. It starts from fiber selection, to yarn and fabric production, and then to garment manufacturing. In many cases, the completion of the final product also involves several other departments, which may include decoration, discovery, embroidery, leather and other fashion accessories.
The main business of labor-intensive garment manufacturing can be divided into three categories: pre-production, production and post-production
. Trial production focuses on preparing necessary materials and services, including production line planning, sample development and approval, procurement and production planning. During the production process, the fabric will be spread, cut, tied and sewn. The next few post-production tasks-including pressing, inspection, folding and packaging-prepare the goods for consumers. Compared with hundreds of years ago, garment production still relies heavily on manual operations
The labor dependence of cutting and sewing tasks makes them expensive. Fabric cost and cutting labor are the two biggest expenditures in garment manufacturing
. Raw materials account for 50% to 70% of the total cost of the product
, But the compromise of fabric quality and quantity directly affects the quality of the final product. On the contrary, a feasible solution to reduce fabric costs is to achieve the most effective marking through precise and precise cutting.
Sewing accounts for 35% to 40% of the total cost
. In the past few decades, manufacturers of sewn products have reduced labor costs through global supply chain management by setting up production facilities in developing countries. However, due to the latest changes in the global labor market, this business strategy is more difficult to maintain. There is an urgent need to find alternative manufacturing solutions, and automated cutting and sewing processes are an option.
Automation improves productivity and the quality of fashion products by minimizing human intervention and preventing manufacturing errors. Examples include mechanized fabric processing, computer technology, and automatic sewing machines and robots. These processes contribute to the smooth and automatic transition of the workpiece between steps or during the process.
Six sub-sections were established under the garment system displayed at the ITMA 2019 Textile Machinery Trade Show. These are product development equipment; shrinking, fusing and cutting; sewing; sewing supplies and consumables; product finishing. Cutting and sewing are the main observation areas. According to reports, there are many examples of automation equipment highlighting the key features of cutting and sewing automation technology innovation.
With the increase in mass production, the cutting rooms in garment manufacturing facilities have been automated through a number of new inventions. The paver that puts a roll of fabric on the table greatly reduces manpower. The die-cutting machine that came out in the early 1900s also greatly improved the cutting efficiency and quality. With the advent of numerically controlled (NC) machines in the 1940s and 1950s, continuous cutting was possible. This brings greater production flexibility and more economical use of materials. Later, digital technology created computer numerical control (CNC) machines and supporting tools, such as computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) programs.
Most systems in automated cutting have a similar configuration, where the cutting equipment is installed in a carriage, which is connected to a cross bar above the cutting table. The carriage moves along the cross bar across the entire width of the cutting table, and the cross bar moves across the entire length of the cutting table. These movements make the cutting device move on the cutting area and are precisely controlled by the control unit. In modern cutting equipment, the cutting table is equipped with a vacuum system that can hold down the material during the cutting process and improve cutting accuracy. Therefore, porous materials such as textiles must be cut with a water-impermeable plastic cover. The suction fan is usually the component that consumes the most power in the cutting operation
Various cutting techniques can be used for cutting equipment, such as computer-controlled knives, lasers, water jets, plasma or ultrasonics. Knife cutters are suitable for multi-layer cutting of heavy textile materials, and have been most widely adopted by textile product manufacturers
. The knife cutting head is equipped with a variety of cutting tools-knives, grooving tools, drills and markers-to meet various cutting and marking requirements. Laser cutting machines are the second most commonly used cutting method and are usually used for single-layer cutting. Lasers can produce abrasion-resistant edges on man-made fibers (including polyester and nylon). By controlling the laser intensity, a variety of treatment effects can be obtained, such as cutting, kiss cutting and marking. The choice of cutting method depends on the characteristics of the material and the complexity of the required profile to be cut.
When configuring an automatic cutting system, the most important consideration is whether to cut a single layer or multiple layers of fabric. Single-layer cutting enables a continuous process and does not require a spreader because the fabric can be transported directly from the reel to the cutting area. Using a conveyor cutting table can increase productivity, where cutting continues as the cutting surface advances. With this moving surface, this configuration can be used to cut oversized parts that exceed the length of the cutting table.
When spreading multiple stacks of fabric for cutting, of course a stronger cutting ability is required. The swing knife maximizes cutting capacity by moving up and down as the knife advances. The depth of the swing stroke is usually 5 millimeters (mm) to 200 millimeters, and it needs to be designed according to the cutting conditions
. Headquartered in Turkey
A smart knife that can swing not only up and down but also left and right is introduced. The additional knife movement helps to accurately cut the pieces on the thick multilayer textile layer. Due to the oscillating movement of the knife, the surface of the cutting table must be loose enough to support the movement. When using a swing knife for multi-layer cutting, the surface of the cutting table is made of bristles, usually a static flat table. This static cutting configuration ensures a higher cutting accuracy than the conveyor surface.
Since Torland, Connecticut
After the introduction of the first fully automatic cutting system in the 1960s, the automatic cutting market has matured and become more competitive. France
It is another major participant in the development of cutting technology.
The main areas of current innovation are related to well-designed sub-functions or supplementary assistance to existing cutting technologies. The main areas of new development observed at ITMA 2019 can be summarized in three areas-productivity, versatility and pattern matching capabilities.
In order to improve productivity, some automatic paper cutters are equipped with additional paper cutting devices and cross bars, which can simultaneously cut paper simultaneously. according to
, Germany, double cutting head can reduce cutting time by up to 40%
. Another example of improving efficiency is the implementation of automatic labeling machines. This technology is developed by a company located in Italy
Participated in ITMA2019 with Serkon Tekstil Makina. The labeling machine is integrated in the cutting machine to reduce human error and confusion during the unloading process after cutting. Adhesive labels of different sizes are thermally printed and placed in the middle of each cut according to the needs
. In this way, you can immediately see the necessary information, including barcodes, on the piece.
Designed to achieve multi-functional use on Swiss single-pole cutting machines
Modular tools are used in its automatic paper cutter, and users can change the paper cutting equipment interactively
. You can choose a variety of cutting equipment-including electric or pneumatic swing tools, rotating or blades, laser modules, punching or creasing tools, and marking or drawing modules-and install them on the carriage in a few quick and easy steps to Perform specific cutting operations.
At ITMA 2019 in Germany
Demonstrated an automatic textile cutting system dedicated to wool fabrics based on laser technology
. Its cutter is called Cut'nProtect Technology, and it is equipped with a steamer to stabilize the fabric and form a smooth, lint-free cut edge. The cutting machine also combines a dual cutting device with a laser and a blade, which has versatility.
Traditionally, pattern matching involves preparing segmented markings and has two separate cutting steps-rough cutting and fine cutting
. Although these processes are time-consuming and laborious, the accuracy of pattern matching is still elusive, and unnecessary material waste occurs between roughing and finishing. Several companies including Zund, Morgan Technica and Kuris have invested in the development of pattern matching hardware and software, and demonstrated improved pattern matching functions at ITMA 2019.
In an automated system, pattern matching can be achieved by generating a screen image of the fabric pattern on the marking table or projecting a marking image on the fabric. In the former method, the fabric printing is scanned by the optical device on the cutting head and then imported into the marking software. Place the clothing pattern and prepare the mark on the fabric image
. This allows the operator to optimize the cutting parameters to achieve precise and precise cutting results. The latter technique is usually called visual nesting, which can help operators view and edit marks in real time, and check the mark image projected on the fabric surface before cutting
. The operator can reposition or reposition the piece to match complex fabric patterns or use engineering patterns for operation. Because the operator still plays an important role in the process, these systems are considered semi-automated.
The key technology that Kuris emphasized at ITMA 2019 is the integrated camera system, which can record and identify the material to be cut. The captured image of the fabric surface is processed to calculate the cutting coordinates. The garment pattern printed by the sublimation method, this technology enables the single-blade cutting machine to perform even without marking
. Based on imaging technology, its leather cutting machine can also detect any contour of the leather block, determine the quality of different surface conditions, and directly carry out automatic nesting marks on the leather that matches the quality area
The production process involved in clothing assembly is divided into two sub-functions-material handling and connection of fabric parts. In garment manufacturing, a lot of time and labor are spent on material handling, such as lifting, moving, installing, repositioning, and repositioning cut or semi-finished fabric components. It is important that the seams are processed accurately and gently in a cost-effective manner to ensure high quality
. In commercial workstations, it is usually manually loaded, while the sewing and unloading process may be automated
Compared with handling inflexible materials, using fabrics is much more difficult. The fabric can easily cause unallowable deformation even under a small pressure (such as its own weight or air resistance). According to reports, handling during product assembly is done manually 79% of the time
. No factory will automatically process materials, and only 21% of companies use semi-automatic systems. When manufacturing a piece of clothing, the processing time accounts for about 80% of the entire production time, and about 80% of the factory cost is related to the processing cost.
There are several vacuum-based clamping techniques, Bernoulli grippers, needles or rollers
. In the vacuum gripper, the gripping element is connected to a pneumatic pump and maintains contact with the gripping material
. The pressure difference causes the gripping material to adhere to the suction cup. The Bernoulli gripper uses compressed air directly to produce the Bernoulli effect, thereby realizing non-contact clamping. In the needle holder, the needle penetrates the material at an angle and interlocks with the material for grasping. Roller systems often use freezing and surface grippers, which use Peltier elements and electrostatic effects to produce temporary adhesion, respectively.
However, these advanced gripping technologies have not yet been popularized in textile assembly systems. Simat
The report pointed out that 72% of semi-automatic loading and unloading systems currently do not use grippers, and the remaining 28% use needles or scrap grippers. The only similar application found in ITMA 2019 is a board picker demonstrated in an ongoing project in Spain
. In its system, the workpiece floats about an inch above the surface of the table made of bristles. This allows the 360-degree robotic arm to easily shovel the workpiece using a simple grasping element
. According to AB Industries, the technology is currently under development and has not yet been commercialized.
Sewing is the most important textile joining technology, accounting for 85% of all joining methods
. Sewing still relies on manual operations by highly skilled workers, accounting for 35% to 40% of the total cost
. In the past few decades, manufacturers of sewn products have reduced production costs by shifting production facilities to low-wage developing countries. However, as market conditions change, this business strategy is coming to an end. In many developing countries, labor costs are increasing rapidly, there is a shortage of skilled labor globally, and changes in consumer behavior are faster than changes driven by rapid fashion trends. Therefore, the garment manufacturing industry is urged to make efforts to realize sewing automation.
The most popular and widely adopted automatic sewing configuration observed at ITMA 2019 is a conventional sewing machine installed on a fabric processing machine, such as a winding machine or a calender. Many companies including Spain
Use this type of configuration to complete the edges, connect fabric rolls or make a tubular structure from fabric rolls
, Italy, provides a series of mobile sewing machines for this configuration
. If the wet process is performed at the same time during the sewing process, a pneumatic power supply is used in some sewing units. In these applications, the commonly used stitch types are chain stitches-100 or 400-or overlock-500-stitches, because these stitch types are equipped with a continuous bobbin thread supply device and do not need to be stopped. The machine is ready to load the line.
The automatic bobbin changing system is an innovative solution to improve sewing efficiency. In the 301-needle lock sewing machine, the fully loaded bobbin lasts for less than 20 minutes in continuous sewing, and frequent bobbin replacement is a notorious sewing bottleneck.
. The automatic system is based on two principles-checking the remaining amount of bobbin thread, and once it reaches the predetermined amount of remaining thread, replace it with a full bobbin.
, Germany demonstrated a fully automatic bobbin changer at ITMA. Its patented bobbin checker uses a unique bobbin and is coded by a specific combination of RGB colors
. When the bobbin rotates during the operation of the machine, the light sensor monitors the color sequence and detects normal bobbin movement or errors when the line is used up. Among the installations exhibited at ITMA 2019, the magazine rack type spool station is located nearby, ready to be filled with a bobbin case filled with 15 spools, while one of the 16 slots is still empty and can be converted
. This can minimize production pauses, and each time the bobbin is changed, the sewing machine only pauses for 6 to 8 seconds.
The principle of automatic sewing varies with the geometry of the sewing path. The use of CNC sewing technology can easily create two-dimensional seams, where one or two mobile sewing heads advance on the textile along a programmed seam path. For the more complicated case of converting a 2D fabric into a 3D seam, when the fabric is placed in a 3D shape, the sewing head is guided by the robot along the sewing path in the 3D space. However, in many cases, the two fabric pieces have different contours or curvatures along the seam to be connected. This type of seam needs to be handled by positioning the fabric 3D and applying different tension to the fabric in each stitch.
In a 2D sewing configuration, one or more layers of textiles are sewn in a fixed sewing frame. By clamping the fabric piece into the holder, flexible material handling can be avoided. The tool holder guides the sewing head in the x and y directions according to the programmed seam contour. This sewing configuration is mainly used for decoration and design of seams. The size of the sewing area is basically limited by the physical size of the linear axis in the machine. The sewing area that a large machine can handle is up to 3 meters x 3 meters, while a small machine can cover less than 10 cm x 10 cm
. Large CNC sewing machine is used to sew blankets or mattresses
. Usually, small machines are used to automatically sew care products or brand labels onto clothes
The current progress of automatic sewing systems is limited to certain operations. Various semi-automatic sewing machines and units can be purchased from many suppliers, including Japanese
, Located in Italy
And is located in Germany
. At ITMA 2019, Juki showed off a series of automatic sewing machines for buttons, button holes and Yingkou; Rimac showed off an automatic binding machine for finishing bedding and rounded corners of car mats
. An automatic robotic arm is used to rotate the workpiece at the corner to produce a constant curvature, while the textile belt is automatically inserted into the feeding unit.
Durkopp Adler demonstrated the double patch pocket process at ITMA 2019 and introduced a modular production system
. Use a two-needle lock needle with a center cutter and a needle feeding mechanism to produce a welt bag
. A sewing frame with a fixed seam path is used for template sewing and clamps the workpiece during operation. This process is a semi-automatic configuration, requiring the operator to align the parts and feed them into the system.
A company that did not participate in ITMA 2019 but made a significant contribution to the automated sewing industry through its Sewbots is
,Atlanta. Its main technological innovation is the integration of an advanced computer vision system, which can track each thread at the needle and coordinate the precise movement of the fabric.
. The sewing robot uses a robotic arm and a 360-degree conveyor system to process fabrics. The four-axis robotic arm can use a vacuum gripper to lift and place a piece of fabric, and the transfer table can feed the fabric into the sewing unit. The table is equipped with spherical rollers embedded in the surface, called hubs. Thanks to these flower buds, each piece of fabric can move smoothly in any direction on the table as needed.
A fully automatic pillowcase production unit was demonstrated at ITMA 2019, in which the sequential production tasks of trimming, folding, sewing, labeling and packaging are completed in one unit. Italian company provides a similar system
. , Located in Germany
Used in towel production. So far, commercially available production systems with fully automated production capabilities are limited to flat textiles, such as towels, bedding and carpets.
The sewing machine head needs to be installed on the robot and controlled by the robot to perform 3D sewing operations. Since many processes and steps of semi-automatic machines must be combined, it is difficult to maintain economical and flexible production. Need a lot of investment, and the robot system has not been used in the garment production line. However, the production demonstration conducted by the Italian company
Provides an impressive futuristic display for automated production. A fully automated system called Borsoi is using robots to process 3D pillows. Specifically, Borsoi was able to pick up the pillowcase, fix the seam opening, fill the pillowcase, transport the pillow, close the opening, and pack the finished product in a plastic bag in a continuous production line
. Use robotic arms with fixtures to move and advance all workpieces between all tasks.
Completing more than one production task is a key consideration for the advancement of automated sewing systems. As demonstrated by several ITMA companies, sewing machines must be implemented in existing processes for other operations in the assembly process, such as filling feeders or press sewing machines. The configuration of the automatic sewing system depends on the product design and production plan, and each production system may have to be customized for different clothing products. Product standardization will reduce the burden. Companies such as RSG Automation Technics provide customized services for textile factories.
The textile industry led the first industrial revolution in the 1800s, transitioning from manual production to a manufacturing system based on mechanical power. The second industrial revolution made industrialization and mass production possible, while the third revolution was based on digitization and automation technology. Today, production lines are equipped with programmable machines, and the industry is moving towards the fourth industrial revolution.
Industry 4.0 is a strategic plan proposed by the German government in 2011
. The reason for launching the plan is that attempts to reduce manufacturing costs have almost been exhausted, and new strategies need to be adopted. The report estimates that Industry 4.0 factories can save 10-30% of production costs, 10-30% of logistics costs, and 10-20% of quality management costs.
. Other expected results include shortened delivery times, improved customer responsiveness, affordable mass customization, a worker-friendly environment, and more efficient use of natural resources and energy
. In particular, Industry 4.0 solutions may provide key technologies for smart textile production, which is one of the largest growth areas in the textile industry. By 2026, the global market for smart textiles is expected to reach US$3 billion.
The main concept of Industry 4.0 is intelligent automation based on interoperability and connectivity. The application of cyber-physical systems (CPS) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in industrial production systems is very important for Industry 4.0. The production facility is CPS, which stands for physical equipment integrated with information and communication technology components. Autonomous systems can make self-organizing and self-optimizing decisions based on machine learning algorithms and real-time data
The network system integrated into the garment manufacturing machinery was introduced at ITMA 2019. Juki Advanced Network System (JaNets) is a software combined with supporting hardware, in which sewing machines in the production line are linked to each other to provide data about production activities. Digital sewing machine is an important part of collecting detailed sewing data including error codes
. The terminal located at each workstation can provide detailed analysis of the production progress in real time and reduce the time to respond to problems.
A smart factory platform for home textile manufacturing is also proposed. Its system consists of a series of digital machines that are connected to each other to manufacture products, monitor facilities, perform analysis, and transport equipment and materials
. This enables predictive maintenance of manufacturing facilities based on big data collection and analysis.
The concept of on-demand clothing design and production-the concept of manufacturing clothing products after receiving customized orders-has begun to emerge
. The system consists of a clothing design database and a series of manufacturing machinery for textile printing, cutting and assembly. Intelligent automation is essential to reduce costs and shorten lead times. It is obvious from ITMA 2019 that the textile and apparel industry is steadily developing towards Industry 4.0 every day.
The latest ITMA emphasizes the advanced state of automation in apparel manufacturing. The biggest trend in cutting is to use optical imaging technology. The tool becomes more efficient, versatile and precise. Compared with cutting, the development of sewing automation is still in its infancy, and only limited sewing capabilities are feasible in the automation configuration. The seamless integration of customized functions into existing production lines is the biggest trend in current automatic sewing.
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