UNSEAM is an initiative founded by Bas Froon and Karin Vlug that develops new technologies enabling local, digital and on-demand manufacturing of textile products.
The textile landscape is changing – the existing model of long lead times of mass produced products from Asia will not be profitable and sustainable in the near future.
Most of what we wear is produced at the other side of the world with the sewing machine and is one of the most labor-intensive industries in the world. In 2018, UNSEAM developed a seamless, three-dimensional shaping textile technology for the textile industry, making labor-intensive operations unnecessary.
By combining new and existing digital techniques, UNSEAM aims to enable designers and brands to produce their clothes, shoes and furniture made to measure and on-demand: closer to the end-user.
Sustainable, ethical and scalable.
Seamlessly Shaping Textiles
"..our solution to automate sewing is not to sew at all."
Textile products require three dimensional shapes in order to be functional or to fit the human body, like a shoe or a jacket. As textiles are produced as flat materials, it is necessary to cut the material into several pieces and shapes and assemble them together with processed like sewing, gluing or ultrasonic welding. This is mostly done with manual labor as it’s too complex and expensive to work with robots. As textiles are flexible, and the product gets its three-dimensional shape during the assembly, material handling is very complex.
The current practice of manual sewing and the high labor costs involved into a situation where it’s most cost effective for a company to order very large quantities at a factory in a low wage country with a long lead time. Resulting in many unsold products with high costs for the company (shipping, lost income) the environment (pollution, resource use) and people (exploitation). It is therefore desired to produce closer to the consumer, in smaller quantities and with shorter lead-times. In order to achieve this, we need to reduce the manual labor and replace this with efficient machines that can produce on demand. The current sewing practice is a major hurdle to this and can to a large extent to be replaced by UNSEAM.
UNSEAM Seamlessly Shaping Textiles process (patent pending)
UNSEAM developed a technology that creates three dimensional textile shapes into textiles by digitally programming local shrinkage based on special material properties. The final size and shape can be different for each piece.
This fundamental different approach has a major benefit compared with other techniques: the actual ‘shape-change’ from a flat ‘programmed’ textile into a three dimensional garment only takes place at the final stage. Therefore all other processes before this final stage can work with flat pieces of fabric. This is an important detail: our approach does therefore not need expensive robots and can be combined with existing high-volume technology like CNC cutting and lamination.
UNSEAM started out of personal fascination by the founders almost five years ago, the increased urgency by industry and policy makers to come up with Smart Industry 4.0 solution for garment industry has boosted the development of UNSEAM in recent years. We could not have done this alone, we are supported by the WEAR Sustain programme (EU H2020), the Creative Industries Fund NL and NGO’s together with technology partners (TU Eindhoven, ITA RWTH Aachen) and European SME’s (Lohmann, Permess).
Copyright UNSEAM – 2019