SoftWear Automation Inc., an Atlanta-based robotic sewing firm, recently announced receipt of $4.5 million in financing from CTW Venture Partners, an existing investor. The funding will fast track the company’s development of fully automated “sewn good work-lines” for U.S. apparel production.
SoftWear Automation’s sewing work-lines are designed for home goods, footwear and apparel. Its “sewbots” enable manufacturers to “sew local” by moving supply chains closer to consumers whilst maintaining high-quality products at lower costs. Its patented computer vision systems allow fabric to be viewed with “more accuracy than the human eye” and its technology tracks exact needle placement to within half a millimeter of accuracy. SoftWear’s sales grew 1,000 percent from 2015 to 2016, and the firm said it plans to add 20 employees to support growing customer demand.
Palaniswamy “Raj” Rajan, SoftWear’s automation chairman and chief executive officer, said that its “innovative sewbots are moving needles to the fabric instead of fabric to the needle. Factories today chase cheap labor around the world and we have ended up with an unsustainable supply chain. SoftWear Automation’s sewbots can move that manufacturing closer to the customer or the raw materials.” SoftWear also aims to create higher-wage jobs for supervision of its sewbots.
The firm is especially focused on the homecoming of U.S. textile manufacturing: “U.S. textile manufacturing will look different when it comes back, but it will be more productive and provide higher paying jobs than before,” said Rajan. Ninety-seven percent of all apparel in the U.S. is currently imported, according to The American Apparel and Footwear Association.
SoftWear Automation’s technology creates a diversified portfolio of products that includes pillows, bath mats, automotive mats, hemming, T-shirts, mattresses, towels and linens and jeans and pants.