With SoftWear’s innovations, Rajan adds, the company aims to bring the supply chain in-house, eliminating the need for excess warehousing.
“You don’t have to maintain a lot of inventory, you just have to maintain (garment) fibers,” says Rajan.
SoftWear’s $4.5 million from CTW comes as the newest in a line of funding sources for the company. In 2012, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) distributed a grant to the firm, totaling roughly $1.75 million. The company secured the funding by proposing that the Sewbot technology could help streamline manufacturing for U.S. military apparel. Under the Berry Amendment, the U.S. government requires military uniforms be American-made. The robotic technology offered a potential solution for high-volume production of a garment traditionally sewn by a rapidly disappearing and aging skilled workforce.
“[DARPA] looked at the data and they saw that the average age for a seamstress is 56 years old,” states Rajan. “Essentially, manufacturers would not be able to meet their goals in the next 10 years.”
With this new round of funding, Rajan says the company plans to add 20 employees to its team, and finalize the latest series of Sewbots.
“[These robots] are part of our T-shirt work line,” Rajan explains. With more than 90 percent of apparel currently made outside the U.S., Rajan hopes to bring a portion of that production back home.
Read the full article at PrintwearMag.com.