On Tuesday, the company received government approval of a manufacturing patent specifically for the “on-demand” creation of apparel through an “environment” of connected and computerized machines that will print and cut patterns, then assemble the garments without need of human assistance.
Amazon cited the normally involved process of apparel manufacturing in its patent application, pointing out that “many aspects of apparel manufacturing processes are relatively time-consuming and require the coordination of many different geographically dislocated suppliers, vendors, manufacturers and retailers.”
In addition to printing, cutting and assembling, the system is also designed to aggregate product orders, organize those orders based on productivity and arrange patterns in a way that will reduce textile scrap, according to the patent.
“Once various textile products are printed, cut and assembled according to the orders, they can be processed through a quality check, photographed for placement in an electronic commerce system, shipped to customers, and/or stored in materials handling facility for order fulfillment,” Amazon said in the patent description. “By aggregating orders from various geographic locations and coordinating apparel assembly processes on a large scale, the embodiments provide new ways to increase efficiency in apparel manufacturing.”
While “efficiency” means quicker production, it also means that any apparel produced by Amazon with its on-demand system will likely come at a much-reduced cost for shoppers.
The tech giant could not be reached immediately for comment. Amazon has filed for numerous patents that could change the consumer landscape, but it’s unclear if the automated apparel factories are an idea that will stay on the back burner indefinitely or will someday soon have brands scrambling to keep up.
The exploration into on-demand manufacturing is only an element of Amazon’s foray into fashion.
Amazon is already building a private label business and is focusing on eight brands, which feature largely basic offerings in intimates, casual wear, dresses and other categories.
In a recent letter to shareholders, Amazon’s founder, chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos said the company strives to stay ahead of the desires of consumers, whom he said are “always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied.”
Bezos also briefly discussed Amazon’s continued development of machine learning and artificial intelligence, saying there is “much more to come.”
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