UNSEAM by Bas Froon and Karin Vlug
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.
More information on research & development projects at UNSEAM website
Seamlessly Shaping Textiles
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 (patented).
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).
3D GENERATIVE GARMENT DESIGN
Hackathon TUDelft: 3D Textile shaping
Despite the ‘covid-limitations’ our latest Research & Development project UNSEAM – Digital Design Method” has been progressing well over the last couple of months!
We have been working on a digital design method for our digital, on-demand seamlessly shaping textile technology. Researching what it means to design directly in 3D while containing the aesthetics. Classical pattern thinking does not work for digital manufacturing techniques.
The aim? To explore the possibilities to create a digital design method for the designer to work with. Developing a new interaction between the designer, the producer and the machine.
In order to achieve this goal, we made some good progress in the last year with our partners TU Delft (Crossing Parallels Programme) and the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI). With materials produced by Enschede Textielstad and Lohmann, students were able to experiment and to match the digital side with the physical world.
Supported by the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie
UNSEAM x Minor Advanced Prototyping TU Delft
UNSEAM all photo’s by Jeroen Dietz
Here you see of video of Bas and me pitching our ideas to the European Union in January 2018, just before we founded UNSEAM