Appalled by over-priced professional embroidery machines, Stéphane and Sébastien have, within Electrolab, developed a prototype of an embroidery module that could be adapted to all standard sewing machines. On their innovation agenda, they wanted to make costly features, affordable and simple: remote Bluetooth control; creation or usage of varied patterns; resizing the drawing for the fabric, repositioning it; managing embroidery stitches and fillings. This open-source embroidery kit will be available by the end of this year. It includes a 3D frame, software tools for embedded intelligence, remote computer control and embroidering engine.
Q: Why turn a standard sewing machine into an embroidery machine?
Embroidery machines on the market seemed to us too expensive in view of their supposed complexity. 1,000 to 2,000 € for a machine, plus the same amount for the software that controls it, is simply too much. Moreover, the market is rather B2B, and each brand carefully maintains a captivated client base with its own specific characteristics, deliberately small and undocumented. Adding an embroidery module to a standard sewing machine was the solution.
Q: How did you work?
We bought a sewing machine that we hacked. We compared our results with professional embroidery photos on the internet and of course we incorporated the comments we received from visitors of all the events where we presented our prototypes..
Q: How does this embroidery kit work?
We have integrated all functions we consider essential from the point of view of an amateur user. The Bluetooth functionality for example: It facilitates embroidering and is a huge success whenever demonstrated. If this functionality is present on a high-end machine, it is billed optionally at 300€, while its cost is only 3€ … not bad margin!
Q: Who will go for your kit?
First, the Makers Spaces that develop textile businesses! And of course, those who want to embroider without spending too much: a workshop that produces small series or prototypes, a professional embroidery trainer, a sports club for its t-shirts, a restaurant for its napkins … or simply those passionate for a creative hobby.
Q: When will it be available?
We still have work to do on the prototype, especially on the motherboard, to avoid bugs related to micro-breaks and to automate the control of the sewing machine. We also need to finalize and document the software. If everything goes as planned, the three elements of the kit – the 3D mechanical frame that fits on a standard sewing machine, engine and software – will be ready for the beginning of the school year 2017.
Q: What will this project bring financially?
As in any hack space, the primary interest is solving wicked problems of a community.But the philosophy of the hack space does not stop selling the finalized projects! It helps pay the designers and pay the Electrolab charges. One thing is for sure, the kit will be sold at very reasonable price for parts sourced from professionals, partners of the Electrolab.
Table 1: Features of the kitProvided in the kitNot included in the kit
The project champions
At 30, this engineer is passionate about the intelligence embedded in machines. In addition to his job for Softbank Robotics (NAO robots, Pepper, etc.), he develops numerous objects and participated in two French robotic cups. He is the specialist for OpenEmbroidery in terms of electronics and software, the one who avoids that the embroiderer breaks, for example!
35 years and already 25 years of amateur coding … Graphic 3D, Sébastien met Stephane at the Electrolab during the French robotics cups. Since then he has been developing computer-to-machine interface software. For OpenEmbroidery, he is responsible for the mechanics and software and constantly optimizes the functionality of the kit, such as complex fillings, for example.
Samuel Lesueur and Yannick Avelino are founding members of Electrolab, a 1,500 m2 hacker space dedicated to what the community wants to do. If today we focus on electrical, mechanical, electronic, chemical and biological development, tomorrow it will be something else. Whatever background or training, we come to share, exchange, produce, build … and roll up his sleeves on the weekend to continue to equip the place! A great experience of active community.