SoftWear Automation raises $4.5 million to build robots that sew
Remember the good old days when cartoon robot toys were all the rage? Maybe you were a Transformers kid or maybe you were into Microbots. And, if you were very lucky, you got to experience to joy of the mini transforming Sewbots.
If you were lucky you got the Sewbots Command Center and if you were really, really lucky you can now get the SoftWear Automation Sewbot, a fully functional sewing robot that can make pillows, pants, mattresses and towels. Five years ago the company received a grant for DARPA to product the first real sewing robots and they succeeded, ultimately raising $4.5 million to further advance the sewing state of the art.
Founded by a set of Georgia Tech science professors, the company was a “response to the effects of offshoring textile and apparel manufacturing had on the US economy,” said CEO Palinaswamy “Raj” Rajan. They’ve received a $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation and a $3 million Series A from CTW Venture Partners. This latest round is a Series A1.
The company’s Sewbots has produced 2 million home goods since 2015. The robots are designed to hold onto and sew cloth and other materials by “mapping” the surface as it sews. Sewing in general has been a thorny problem for decades and the Sewbots are some of the first robots to do it without resorting to heavily snatched materials.
“Most automation in textiles and apparel is operation specific — focused on automating a particular process— and still require an operator to feed and manage the machine,” said Rajan. “Using our patented computer vision technology, SoftWear’s fully automated Sewbots are able to replace the operator without making any modifications to the material.”
While a robot that can sew bathmats is not nearly as cool as Cy-Kill, Spay-C, or Leader-1 you can still be the first kid on your block to entirely change the face of a labor-intensive manufacturing process that has long been the bane of the industrialized world everywhere. The choice is yours.