Term of Award

Spring 1997

Degree Name

Master of Technology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Industrial Technology

Committee Chair

Keith F. Hickman

Committee Member 1

Waldo E. Meeks

Committee Member 2

David A. Williams

Abstract

Problem of the Study:

The problem of this study was divided into two parts. The first part was to gather information on the automated leather hide nesting and cutting equipment available, its current level of use, and the capabilities and features of each. The second part was to conduct a survey of companies in the leather goods manufacturing industry within the United States to determine the need and level of interest in this type of technology.

Procedures:

Companies producing this type of equipment were identified through discussions with a number of manufacturing companies that produced leather cutting equipment. The capabilities of these automated leather hide nesting and cutting machines were then compiled and documented. A survey instrument was then developed and sent to leather goods manufacturing companies throughout the United States. This survey was designed to determine if there was a desire for this type of technology and which features were most highly desired.

Findings:

The two areas of this study were 1) the equipment available in this field of technology and 2) the interest that leather goods manufacturing companies in the United States display toward this equipment. Two companies were identified that produced automated leather hide nesting and cutting equipment for sale in the United States. These companies were Atom Hi-Tec and Humantec. The Atom Hi-Tec equipment (Aleut 3000) combined a high resolution matrix camera and light table in conjunction with nesting software to automatically nest leather parts on a hide. The hide was then cut with a computer numeric controlled (CNC) waterjet cutter. The Humantec equipment (Lasernest) used a ceiling mounted laser projection system to project images of parts onto a hide for nesting. The cutting was then performed by an oscillating knife cutter with a ceramic blade.

The survey was mailed to a sample population of companies in the leather goods manufacturing industry. Companies in the luggage, personal goods, and shoe companies were the only ones that reported any interest in the automated nesting and cutting systems. Shoe companies accounted for 33.3% of the companies interested. The majority of the companies surveyed (59.1%) reported annual sales of $10 million or less. The largest portion (72.2%) of the companies produced more than fifty styles or sizes of product. It was also found that 57.9% of the companies introduced a new product every three months or less. Over half (65.0%) of the companies cut leather parts that are less than one square foot in size. Almost all (70.3%) of the companies used traditional die cutting methods to cut leather parts. It was found that only 24.4% of the companies cut over 100 full hides per week, while 75.6% of the companies cut over 100 sides per week. Companies that reported a leather waste factor of five to ten percent and companies that had a leather waste factor over fifteen percent each accounted for 30.0% of the companies in the survey. The survey showed that 26.8% of the companies were already using some lorm of automated equipment. Only 35.0% of the companies surveyed were aware that the automated equipment in this study existed, and only 20.0% of the companies had inquired about it. The survey determined that 66.7% of the companies chose reduction in material utilization as the most important feature of automated leather hide nesting and cutting. It was determined that 30.8% of the companies would not consider purchasing the equipment, and only 15.4% were willing to pay the amount necessary to acquire the equipment.

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