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The Research and Development Project
fiscal 1982 to 1990 in Japan

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[Outline of the Research and Development Project]

The purpose of this project is to develop technology to reduce a per-piece manufacturing time in small lot but wide variety production system at smaller and medium-size apparel manufacturers to less than half of existing production time. In order to achieve this objective, this project is to carry out research and development activities on the "Total System" to set up general production system technology, with four essential technologies organically combined -the"Preparatory Sewing Technology", "Sewing and Assembly Technology", "Fabric Handling Technology" and "System Management and Control Technology".

This project steps up research and development through closer cooperation of 28 enterprises affiliated by the Technology Research Association with all national research organizations of Research Institute for Polymers and Textiles, Industrial Products Research Institute and Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, and the development period is 9 years from fiscal 1982 to 1990, and the total research and development cost amounts to about \8 billion.

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Test Plant Layout for Automated Sewing System

A lockstitch sewing head attaching sleeve to body with robot arm 3-dimensionally driven

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Image Illustration of Automated Sewing System

Preparatory Sewing Technology

The objectives of this technology are for the introduction of fabric materials for the process preceding the sewing process, and are classified into four sub-elemental techniques: the fabric characteristics evaluation technique, fabric stabilization technique, high-performance pattern-making technique, and fabric inspection, spreading and cutting technique. Studies on the fabric characteristics necessary for sewing and assembly of apparel and on the shape of patterns capable of realizing labor-savings, and techniques to stably feed fabrics and to automatically cut fabrics are being developed.

Fabric Characteristics Evaluation Technique

This aims at constructing a data base for the establishing optimum working conditions in the sewing process, and research is made in relation to the workmanship of products by fabric dynamic and static characteristics.@

Fabric Stabilization Technique

In order to facilitate handling of fabrics in the sewing process research on the techniques for temporarily or permanently stabilizing fabrics and on remedying texture curvature are being undertaken at present.

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High-performance Pattern-Making Technique

Software is being constructed capable of realizing labor-savings by easy-workability without impairing design image and converting patterns including production working information from existing patterns.

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Fabric inspection, Spreading, and Cutting Technique

This technique may be divided into two: the fabric inspection technique and fabric spreading and cutting technique. The fabric inspection technique aims at the establishment of a system that automatically detects defects produced on fabrics.
In the fabric spreading and cutting technique, research is being made on both knife mesh cutting and laser cutting.@

Sewing and Assembly Technology

This is the technology in the central field of sewing, the object of which is to finish by sewing fabrics that have been cut, and this field at present is the most labor-intensive. The objective of the system development in this field is processes for the making of parts in accordance with sewing information, etc. integrated in the cut pieces of fabrics, and further, to perform assembly sewing by combining them. Research and development is being carried out based on the following three sub-element techniques.

Sewing pre-processing technique

As a pre-processing working technique forthe cut pieces of fabrics, the development of a interlining cloth sub-
stitution technique, interlining cloth adhesion technique, and adhesion sewing technique is being carried out.

œMulti-functional sewing station

Performs sewing various parts with exchanging varioes sewing heads and jigs.

High-performance sewing technique

Research is being and is divided into the multi-functional technique that processes various parts sewing as FMS, the three-dimensoinal sewing technique with the intention of stereo assembly sewing, and the super stitching technique related to a new stitching system.

œHigh-frequency induction heating device

This device performs adhesion of the interlining cloth without heating the fabrics by high-frequency induction heating using an adhesive mixed with a suscepter.

œSmall-sized light-weight sewing machine for the three-dimensional sewing

High-performance pressing technique

Research is being made on the finish-pressing technique that uses a flexible dummy and the forming technique to provide seam splitting and deformation.

œStereo finish-pressing device

Performs finishing with a flexible dummy dressed with sewn products.

Fabric Handling Technology

This technology is for handling the completion of cutting to the finish-pressing process and aims at techniques for conveying between processes and for transferring during a process, high-accuracy positioning for the work and conveying machines, and auxiliary operating fabric for the work process.

Fabric Holding Technique

As a result of patternization of the holding function on the basis of examining and analyzing the movement of hands and fingers during the sewing operation, three modules of the vertical-holding type, parallel-holding type and fabric-manipulation type are being developed.

œVertical-holding device

Holds from the upper surface of fabric.

œFabric-manipulation device

Holds and manipulates 2 pieves of fabric during sewing.

High-performance Positioning Technique

A sewing handler is being developes which can be applied to all processes for positioning the fabric to the soecifies position for the sewing machines and for performing sewing and pressing work.

œModule handler

This is a handler constructed with modules. Two handlers operate in cooperation with each other.

Soft Fabric Conveying Technique

For conveying systems in the sewing process, techniques such as the conveyer system,etc. are generally used as the technique for simply conveying of fabrics, so that in this research, a stock module that provides a buffer function between the before and after processes and a mating module that causes the fabric to join are being developed.

œMating module

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System Management and Control Technology

In the system management and control technique, in order to greatly reduce lead time in automated sewing plants on the basis of apparel company's production program compared with the existing state, research and development is now under way with the intention of developing of the following four sub-element techniques: the system general management technique with the objective of optimizing the process organization and optimum control; an inspection and
diagnostic technique that will include inspection of defective processed goods and detection of machine trouble; the control information necessary during the process for the workpieces; and the information recognizing technique that will read the added control information and recognize the shape and condition of the fabrics and parts by a picture processing technique.

System General Management Technique

This technique optimally manages and controls the general production lines necessary for the automated sewing system, and particularly in short-cycle production of small-quantity goods of a large variety, there is program change loss resulting from changing the sort of products, so that research on the process organizing method that will prevent the lowering of the operation rate were under way.

œPicture recognition Photograph

Processes pictures picked up by a television camera and detects any flaws.

Inspection and Diagnostic Technique

The inspection and troubleshooting technique aims at the establishment of a defective workpiece inspection technique and establishment of a troubleshooting technique for automated processing devices. The inspection technique picks up picture information through a television camera, and the computer processes this to detect any failures in the systrm. In the troubleshooting technique, research was under way in which troubleshooting is made between the control system provided on each automated machine and the process control computer located above it.

Control Information Providing Technique

A technique that provides a part of control information for automated sewing equipment to cut pieces of fabric was developed.

œProviding device

Supply providing media using the ink jet system.

Information Recognizing Technique

This corresponds to the function of eyes in the sewing operation, and its objective is to be able to recognize graphic and character information provided for goods to be sewed. The function includes shape recognition, pattern-matching recognition, and stereo shape recognition. The research on the system technique related to them preponderantly performs an examination of algorithm for computer-processing picture information acquired with a television camera and studies the algorithm suited for the detected objects

Research on systemtization of a test plant

The research for automation of a production system was put and functions of the test plant were being assessed and confirmed by its operations.
The content of research and development consisted of two automation studies „Ÿ the automation study of a production system in a sequence of development of FMS , FA and the automation study from apparel side classified into five types „Ÿ tops, bottoms, dresses,sportwears, and night wears.
While the assessment of 4 sub-systems to be introduced in the following were studied as a test plant of ladies's blazers, the designing researches of production plant were being carried out on the above-stated five clothes, reflecting its results.

The designing, manufacturing and operation of the test plant of ladies' blazers were studied. The test plant was consisted of 4 sub-systems such as High-speed Laser Cutting Sub-system, Flexible Sewing Sub-system, High-technology Assembly Sub-system and 3-D Flexible Press Sub-system to be introduced in the following.

High-speed Laser Cutting Sub-system
It automatically spreads and inspects cloth in roll, and outputs the position coordinates of adefect. It avoids a defect on the cloth with the above-mentioned data, making a high-efficient pattern. It spreads cloth in roll, matches patterns and cuts them. It provides cutting parts with process controlling data and picks them up.

Flexible Sewing Sub-system
It automatically and flexibly carries out the interlining process of front and back bodies, and their stitching. Parts recognition before parts stitching and inspection of an intermediate goods after parts stitching are carried out. Pocket pattern with hemline folded is sewn, matching with front body pattern for automatic stitching.

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High-technology Assembly Sub-system
It transports front and back bodies to automatically join sides, opens seams and processes the seam section. It automatically conducts semi-3D stitching to close right and left bodies and seam center line of back bodies. It automatically seams sleeves on to body in three-dimensional way.

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3-D Flexible Press Sub-system
It delivers products in hangers, transports the hangers and attaches or detaches them to halt at the constant position. It automatically transfers hanger with products to press body to get it on or off. It automatically sets the pressing shape matched with product size and processes an air bag press of each part such as collars, sleeves etc. by stages.

The examples applied practically the Automated Sewing System in the pressing process

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The examples applied practically the Automated Sewing System in the sewing machines


The U.S. Textile and Apparel Industry: A Revolution in Progress @@NTIS order #PB87-196762

http://www.wws.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/byteserv.prl/~ota/disk2/1987/8733/873301.PDF

The next critical step in apparel automation has been the development of technologies that can identify@and pick up a single ply of fabric from a multi-ply lay, position the piece, and join it to another.

Graders at H.L. Miller and Son are using the Gerber AM-5 system to remake new patterns out of old patterns@stored in the system. What used to take 1 hour when done manually now takes less than 2 minutes.

Such advances, another result of the efforts of (TC)2, has been transferred to the Singer Sewing Co., which@plans to begin commercial use in late 1987. This in-novation, of course, depends on robots that have more than limited decision making and movement flexibility capacities, such as those that exist in current industrial robotics.

Another promising technological development in apparel, currently being worked on at Japanfs Research@Institute for Polymers & Textiles, is the ap-plication of computer graphics to apparel design.
Other developments are ready for marketing. Toray of Japan is ready to market a low-cost, microcomputer-controlled, pattern-making system this year.
The Nagano Prefectural Research Institute for Information Technology in Japan has developed sophis-ticated software for microcomputer-controlled evaluation of fabric.

In the early 1980s, the Japanese Government provided $60 million to a special apparel research group.
The overall objective of this group has been the development of a system to administer and control the total manufacturing process and to reduce production time by 50 percent, with a pilot plant operating by 1989. Although the project has encountered some difficulty in fulfilling its goal of simultaneously addressing problems faced by both large and small businesses, several of its programs especially those that target large-scale production are proceeding vigorously.
The groupfs four specific objectives are:
1.To develop pre-sewing technology, including evaluation of the fabric, material stabilization technology, pattern making and cutting, automatic spreading, and inspection for fabric defects.
2.To automate sewing and assembly of parts, including the development of machines to fold, cut, and bind temporarily; of programmable and automatic sewing machines; and of devices for automatic pressing on forms. Also to be explored is the development of innovative methods of joining garment sections without the use of conventional sewing techniques.
3.To improve materials handling, including creating devices to hold material similar to human fingers and arms, which can transfer garment parts to precise locations; can assemble component parts into segments to be sewn together, such as collars with interlinings; and can transfer parts into segments to be sewn together, such as collars with interlinings; and can transfer parts from one process to the next.
4. To implement a control system with the technology to integrate the production line, especially when types of products are changed, such as the flexible manufacturing system (FMS) con-cept; to monitor the production line, and repair or replace damaged machine parts automat-ically; to detect, remove, and replace defects in the goods in process; to establish a method of marking the fabric parts with sewing control information; and to develop devices to read control information during the production process.

A highly automated and flexible apparel manufacturing system will have a profound effect on the distribution system, as will the introduction of sophisticated microelectronic devices in retail stores for customer sizing and selection. This process will require the development of a more sensitive and sophisticated marketing orientation. In other words, the apparel industry must get gcloser to the consumer. h

If there is to be a technological revolution in ap-parel, a substantial adjustment by the apparel labor force may be required of both production workers and managers. Unemployment among apparel workers is likely to grow; plans to minimize dislocation could be made now, rather than later. Aside from changes in the numbers and types of production workers, there will be new demands on managers.

Skills necessary to supervise large numbers of workers using simple machines with repetitive tasks are distinct from skills necessary to supervise automated lines with automated control systems and a few highly trained technicians. Management could also plan for orderly change within its own ranks sewing stations.


Some years ago, Chalmers developed an air-jet, single-ply separator. As in so many cases of this type, however, there was no short-term commercial payback for industry, so the prototype has gathered dust in the laboratory.


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