Image Number 6 for United States Patent #5593072.
An integrated automated manufacturing system for finishing individual garments is provided. The system includes a conveyor system, a fixture constructed for movement on the conveyor in a predetermined orientation, a form mounted on the fixture for holding a garment for finishing in a predetermined fixed orientation relative to the fixture, and finishing stations to which the conveyor carries garments mounted on the fixtures. The fixture mounted form can be inflatable so that the garment mounted thereon can be inflated to its fully extended, three-dimensional form, and the finishing station can include a blower to inflate the form prior to the initiation of a finishing step. The finishing stations can include robot-manipulated tools, such as spray guns or abrasive wheels, for applying chemical or mechanical finishes to selected areas of the fixture mounted garment, washing and drying of the garments, automated garment inspection, or the application of tags and labels to the garments. Typical chemical and mechanical finishes include the application of bleaches or abrasives to selected areas of the garment to fade or wear the garment in those areas, or the application of paint or dye to selected areas to shade the garment or to apply a logo or other design to the selected area. A computer integrates the operation of the system by receiving information from the operator about the physical characteristics of the garments mounted on the fixtures and the finishing steps to be performed, by controlling and tracking the movement of the fixtures on the conveyor, and by controlling operations at finishing stations, including the movement and operation of robots and robot-mounted finishing tools to achieve consistent reproduction of desired chemical or mechanical finishes on individual garments.