SBIR Phase I: An additive method for manufacturing customized textile products

Period of Performance: 07/01/2017 - 12/31/2017

$225K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

unspun, Inc.
2990 Capital Dr Array
Eugene, OR 97403
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR Phase I project will demonstrate a novel method for additively manufacturing textile products. Presently, the clothing manufacturing industry still relies on manual sewing machines that were invented over one hundred and seventy years ago. This system limits the manufacturing process and textile capability; an abundance of steps leads to waste, inefficiencies, and segmented products. Further, due to the low cost of foreign labor, the US textile industry has essentially stalled, as 97.3 percent of all clothing sold in the United States in 2015 was imported. This project seeks to develop a novel method for manufacturing textile products by employing additive manufacturing methodologies to automate the production process, while simultaneously enabling complete customization and on-demand production. This technology will enable premium and competitive textile manufacturing to return from overseas, creating high value-added jobs and a designer community in the United States while also generating tax revenue. In the same way that 3D Printing technology has revolutionized the hard goods manufacturing process, this project seeks to create an entire new industry of additively manufactured textile products, enabling significant opportunities for future innovation. This project develops a novel technology to manufacture near-net-shape three dimensional textile products. To develop this technology, this project will first prove feasibility through creating constituent textile panels of non-standard shapes with 3D topography, laying the foundation for continued development into fully three-dimensional, seamless, finished products produced in-situ. By additively producing garments from a unique 3D model, complete customization to each individual consumer is possible on a large scale- though this has never before been accomplished. Further, through the on-demand production of clothing customized to individual consumers, the need for substantial inventory buildup is eliminated. In this way, additively manufactured textile products are both more desirable to consumers and more economical to producers. As such, the societal and environmental benefits of automated and on-demand textile manufacturing within the United States are significant, including eliminating massive amounts of waste from typical cut-and-sew manufacturing techniques, revamping a struggling American manufacturing industry, and minimizing the economical, environmental, and geopolitical implications of the United States' current dependence on a convoluted global supply chain.