-By Ankita Dutta.
Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University is developing a new research facility, the Robotics Living Lab, aimed at supporting micro-scale fashion businesses to produce sustainably using robotic technologies. A sum of $3.8m was granted by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for the construction and outfitting of a fresh establishment, which will facilitate the utilization of robot technology by fashion researchers, designers, and producers, leading to the development of a fashion production industry in the UK that has high returns and low workload volume.
The Robotics Living Lab will develop new tooling solutions, creating new stitching, cutting, pressing, and repair tools to support small fashion businesses in innovative and sustainable production.
Additionally, the establishment will promote collaborations in research and facilitate the translation of fashion research into manufacturing guidelines for carbon-neutral production processes. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s target for net zero manufacturing by 2038 will also be supported by the facility.
Two office spaces will be renovated by Manchester Fashion Institute, consisting of a robotics lab and work in progress space for the Robotics Living Lab, to be completed by summer 2024. The facility will be equipped with collaborative robots designed to work alongside humans, with end effector tools that will be developed in collaboration with fellows of a co-design residency programme. These tools will be used to perform tasks like stitching, cutting, pressing and repairing.
Moreover, the laboratory will create design software that facilitates the cutting of patterns and sequencing construction, empowering digital enhancements in both design and production. The Robotics Living Lab aims to challenge traditional fashion manufacturing and help to transform a sustainable future for the industry.
The funding was announced by Science and Technology Secretary Chloe Smith, as part of a UK research and innovation investment of $103m to expand and upgrade the UK’s research infrastructure, including digital infrastructure. Smith said that the UK’s world-class science and technology sectors were the engine room for growth in the economy and that continued backing would ensure the UK’s world-class labs had the infrastructure and equipment to match their status.