Vamp: Imagining the Footwear Factories of the Future
At SoftWear, an Atlanta-based automation company, fabric is turned into a sort of map, which robots can then use to steer material through a sewing needle.
Using technology developed at Georgia Tech, SoftWear has rapidly expanded to automating all corners of the sewn goods world, including bathmats, towels, car floor mats, linens, curtains, and printed materials like banners. In 2017, they will introduce the same automated technology to footwear and apparel.
As shoe designs have become increasingly complex in recent years, one of the most important aspects to innovating the sports shoe will be how to reduce the number of parts, which saves time and money in the production process.
“Footwear has been driven by designers looking to use different types of materials and patterns, and what’s happened is the standard shoe has gone from 22 pieces to 77 pieces,” said Pete Santora, SoftWear VP of sales.
In addition to reducing the number of parts per shoe, automation must also be able to handle other elements of construction. Sneaker uppers are of particular concern, currently accounting for roughly 70 percent of the labor in the industry, according to Santora.
Read the full article at Vamp.