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Robo-tailor could follow glow-in-the-dark guidance

Apparel manufacturing machine
An illustration shows how an apparel manufacturing machine could make use of fluorescent ink printing and ultraviolet light to guide a customized cutting process. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)

Amazon has taken one more conceptual step toward an integrated system that can size up fashion customers and sell them tailor-made clothing.

The latest advance comes in the form of a patent published today, describing a system that could use fluorescent inks as a guide for cutting fabric. The inks would be invisible under normal lighting, but when the fabric is illuminated with ultraviolet light, “the fluorescent reflection can be captured by image sensors to generate instructions to cut the panels out from the textile sheet.”

“The reflection can also be used as assembly notations for reference by sewing workers or automated sewing systems,” Amazon inventor Rouzbeh Safavi Aminpour says in the patent application, which was filed back in 2016.

Aminpour was in on a previously issued patent that lays out an assembly-line system of computer-controlled printers, cutters and sewing stations for producing on-demand apparel.

The beauty of the system is that the cutting guides and assembly instructions can be custom-printed on the fabric to reflect the eventual wearer’s size and fit. Other inks could be printed onto the fabric at the same time, to reflect the wearer’s desired color pattern for the fabric.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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