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University announces robotics lab for fashion manufacturers

Manchester Metropolitan University’s Robotics Living Lab will allow micro fashion designers and manufacturers to make use of robotic technology for more sustainable production.

The £3.8 million Robotics Living Lab (RoLL) will conceive, test and develop new tooling solutions for stitching, cutting, pressing and repair, with a focus on creating high-value, low-volume fashion textiles in the UK.


The lab will be equipped with ‘cobots’ – collaborative robots designed to work alongside humans – as well as design software for pattern cutting and garment construction sequencing that will allow for digitally enhanced design and manufacturing.


The facility’s aim is to enable research into ‘highly responsive’ sustainable production methods for UK garment manufacturers, and inform policy on carbon neutral manufacturing.


Susan Postlethwaite, Professor of Fashion at Manchester Fashion Institute and Director of RoLL, said:


“The lab will enable fashion designers and manufacturers to work together using cutting-edge technology. This will impact hugely on micro and SME businesses and together we will be able to impact positively on the industry.


“I am very much looking forward to the build being completed and being able to occupy the spaces in the lab with a new and growing team of fashion and product designers, engineers, and social science researchers.”


Earlier this year, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Manchester Metropolitan University announced the formation of a new taskforce, the GM Sustainable Textiles and Fashion Group, to explore sustainable solutions for the city region’s textiles sector.


The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the UK, with nearly one million tonnes of clothes, shoes and other fabrics ending up in landfill or being incinerated every year.


The Robotics Living Lab is due to be completed by summer 2024.

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