Processing

Please wait...

Settings

Settings

Goto Application

1. WO2021005053 - CUTTING METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR APPAREL AND FOOTWEAR MANUFACTURING

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

Cutting method and system for apparel and footwear manufacturing

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates to cutting methods and systems for the manufactur ing of apparel and footwear.

2. Technical background

Manufacturing apparel and footwear generally involves cutting a piece or a patch of pliable material from a larger piece of source material. For instance, the upper of a shoe being manufactured may be cut from a sheet, panel or roll of source ma terial such as a sheet of leather, a roll of a textile, or any suitable polymer mate rial.

It is well known in the art to use laser cutting methods and systems for that pur-pose. After cutting, the cut pieces or patches can then be further processed, e.g. be applied to the surface of a respective piece of apparel or footwear being manufac tured either by hand, or by using a mechanical gripper configured to pick up the pieces or patches individually and position them in place on the piece of apparel or footwear.

In this context the prior art documents DE 10 2013 221 018 and DE 10 2013 221 020, both describe mechanical grippers that can be used to attach components such as patches of a pliable material to shoe uppers during shoe manufacturing.

Further, prior art document US 2015/0107033 Ai describes a laser trimming sys tem for pliable items that comprises a vacuum suction device to retain the pliable item during trimming in an extended fashion on a retaining surface.

However, the conventional manufacturing methods and systems known from the prior art have various deficiencies. For instance, the cutting systems known from the prior art may be bulky and / or inadequately integrated into the overall, in many cases, fully automated manufacturing process. As a consequence, the re-suiting apparel or footwear manufacturing process may be slow, expensive, and / or prone to errors, in particular, when highly customized pieces of apparel or footwear are desired. In the same manner, the corresponding conventional sys tems used for apparel or footwear manufacturing may be complex to deploy and operate as well as unreliable, difficult to reconfigure and / or inefficient

It is therefore a problem underlying the present invention to improve the manu facture of apparel and footwear so that the above outlined disadvantages of the prior art are at least partly overcome.

3. Summary of the Invention

The above-mentioned problem is at least partly solved by the subject matter of the independent claims of the present application. Exemplaiy embodiments of the invention are described in the depended claims.

In one embodiment, the present invention provides a method for manufacturing a piece of apparel, in particular a shoe, comprising cutting at least one patch from a panel or roll of source material with a cutting means, receiving the at least one cut patch by an automated gripping means after cutting, wherein the cutting means and the automated gripping means are arranged on opposite sides of the panel or roll of source material during cutting and translating the at least one cut patch with the automated gripping means to a target location after cutting.

In another embodiment, the present invention provides a system for manufactur ing a piece of apparel, preferably a shoe, comprising cutting means adapted to cut at least one patch from a panel or roll of source material, automated gripping means adapted to receive the at least one cut patch after cutting, wherein the cut- ting means and the automated gripping means are adapted to be arranged on op posite sides of the panel or roll of source material during cutting and wherein the automated gripping means is adapted to translate the at least one cut patch to a target location after cutting.

For instance, the cutting means may comprise a laser cutter, a water jet cutter and / or a mechanical cutter. Further, the automated gripping means may com prise a vacuum gripper, an electrostatic gripper, a needle gripper and / or an ad hesion gripper

The above described embodiments of the present invention significantly enhance the efficiency and speed of the respective apparel or footwear manufacturing pro cess using said embodiments. In addition, manufacturing systems or plants using said embodiments may exhibit a larger degree of system integration which results in less stringent space and energy requirements for installing and operating such manufacturing systems or plants. For instance, by arranging the cutting means and the automated gripping means on opposite sides of the panel or roll of source material during cutting, the cutting means can be operated essentially unaffected by the presence and / or the operation of the automated gripping means. In addi-tion, the present invention allows to determine the position of the at least one cut patch relative to the automated gripping means without requiring complex and expensive machine vision equipment. Moreover, the automated gripping means that transports the patches being cut may also be used as the cutting surface when the patches are being cut, e.g. laser cut.

Further, the step of receiving the at least one cut patch by the automated gripping means may comprises attaching the at least one cut patch to a surface of the auto mated gripping means, preferably via a suction force, an electrostatic force and / or an adhesion force.

Similarly, the automated gripping means may be adapted to attach the at least one patch to a surface of the automated gripping means, preferably via a suction force, an electrostatic force and / or an adhesion force.

In this manner, it can be ensured that the orientation and shape of the cut patch can essentially be maintained while receiving the cut patch and / or while trans porting the cut patch to the target location.

Some embodiments of the present invention may further comprise contacting the panel or roll of source material with a surface of the automated gripping means at least partially during cutting.

Similarly, a surface of the automated gripping means may be adapted to be at-tached to a surface of the panel or roll of source material during cutting.

In this manner, the automated cutting means may assist in the cutting process. For instance, if a laser cutter is used, the surface of the automated gripping means may function as a heat sink and / or as a beam dump receiving a fraction of the heat generated by the laser cutting process or a fraction of the laser beam energy that is not absorbed by the panel or roll of source material during the cutting pro cess.

Some embodiments of the present invention may further comprise maintaining the panel or roll of source material in an essentially flat configuration during cut ting.

For instance, the automated gripping means maybe adapted to maintain the panel or roll of source material in an essentially flat configuration during cutting.

Moreover, some embodiments may comprise additional or alternative means for maintaining the panel or roll of source material in an essential flat configuration during cutting. For instance, such means for maintaining the panel or roll of source material in an essentially flat configuration may comprises a clamping frame allowing access to both sides of the panel or roll of source material.

In this manner, the precision and reproducibility of the cutting process can be en hanced, in particular, when the panel or roll of source material may exhibit folds and / or warps if not properly flattened.

In some embodiments, the clamping frame may comprise a top and a bottom por tion adapted to clamp the panel or roll of source material during cutting, prefera bly via exerting a magnetic force between each other.

In this manner, the source material can quickly and easily be exchanged after cut ting of each patch or each batch of multiple patches. For instance, if the embodi ments of the present invention are used for highly customized shoe manufactur ing, it may be necessary to frequently change the type (e.g. color, texture, material thickness etc.) of source material depending on individual customer preferences

Further, some embodiments may comprise the step of determining the location of at least one cut hole in the panel of source material relative to the clamping frame corresponding to the at least one cut patch.

Similarly, some embodiments may comprise means for determining the location of at least one cut hole in the panel of source material relative to the clamping frame corresponding to the at least one cut patch.

For instance, such means may be integrated in the clamping frame discussed above. Additionally or alternatively, such means may be implemented on the level of the control electronics and / or the control software of the cutting means.

In this manner material waste can be reduced. For instance, the system is thereby enabled to determine which parts of the panel of source material inside the clamping frame have already been cut and which parts can still be used for cut ting further patches in a further iteration of the manufacturing process.

Further, in some embodiments, the step of cutting the at least one patch from the panel or roll of source material may comprise cutting at least two patches, prefer-ably comprising a different shape, before translating the at least two patches to the target location. For instance, in shoe manufacturing, a first patch maybe the shoe upper or a part of the shoe upper and a second patch may be a structural or an aesthetic element that may be attached to the outer surface of the shoe upper during manufacturing of the shoe.

In this manner, the speed and efficiency of the apparel or footwear manufacturing process maybe further increased. For instance, the cutting means may first cut all components required for the assembly of a piece of apparel or footwear before the automated gripping means transports the cut components to the target location, e.g. to a further processing station that is configured to carry out the assembly of the piece of apparel or footwear.

Further, in some embodiments, the patch maybe a first component of the piece of apparel and the provided method may further comprise a step of attaching the at least one cut patch, preferably with the automated gripping means, to a second component of the piece of apparel being manufactured.

Similarly, the automated gripping means may further be adapted to attach the at least one patch to the piece of apparel or a component of the piece of apparel be-ing manufactured. Moreover, the automated gripping means may also be adapted to rotate the at least one patch in space after cutting.

In this manner, the degree of system integration and thereby the versatility of the provided manufacturing systems and processes can be further enhanced. For in-stance, the automated gripping means may be configured to receive the cut patch, translate and / or orientate the cut patch in space and then directly attach it to the piece of apparel, such as a shoe upper, which may be supplied by a separate conveyor mechanism at the target location.

Some embodiments of the present invention may further comprise a step of at least partially melting a surface of the at least one cut patch

Alternatively or additionally, the present invention may further comprise a step of applying an adhesive, a dye and / or a coating to the at least one cut patch.

Similarly, the systems provided by embodiments of the present invention may comprise means for applying an adhesive, a dye and / or a coating to the at least one patch and / or heating means for at least partially melting a surface of the at least one patch.

In this manner, the present invention facilitates a fast and cost-efficient assembly of the piece of apparel or footwear being manufactured. For instance, the cut patch can directly be fixed to the piece of apparel by the automated gripping means by just pressing the cut patch onto the piece of apparel or footwear. The surface of the cut patch which has been melted and / or provided with an adhe sive then ensures a proper bonding between the cut patch and the piece of ap parel or footwear to which the cut patch is pressed onto.

Further, in some embodiments, the step of cutting the at least one patch from the panel or roll of source material may comprise controlling a cutting head of the cutting means such as to provide the at least one patch with a pre-programmed shape.

Similarly, the cutting means may comprise a controllable cutting head adapted to provide the at least one patch with a pre-programmed shape during cutting.

For instance, such a controllable cutting head may comprise a controllable trans lation stage and / or controllable beam steering optics.

In this manner, the present invention enables that any desired shape of patch can be cut by the cutting means and then further processed by the automated grip ping means. For instance, the methods and systems provided by the present in vention may be used for manufacturing customized pieces of apparel and foot wear comprising customized design elements whose shape can be pre-pro-grammed according to individual customer preferences.

Further, the cutting means and the automated gripping means may be arranged, or adapted to be arranged, on opposite sides of the panel or roll of source material during the step of cutting the at least one patch from the panel or roll of source material and during the step of receiving the cut patch.

In some embodiments of the present invention the automated gripping means may comprises a moveable gripping head adapted to be moved with respect to a

cutting position in a direction essentially parallel to the panel or roll of source material.

In this manner, transporting the cut patch to the target location can be even faster and more efficient.

Alternatively or additionally, the automated gripping means may comprise a moveable gripping head that is attached to a robotic actuator, preferably having six, preferably independent, actuation axes

In this manner, the versatility and reconfigurability of the systems and methods provided by the present invention can be further enhanced. For instance, using such a robotic actuator may allow to arbitrarily orient the at least one cut patch while transporting and / or while attaching it to a piece of apparel or footwear be-ing manufactured. Moreover, such a robotic actuator may also allow to use differ ent target locations (e.g. a dyeing station, a heating station, an assembly station etc.) to which the at least one cut patch is being transported after cutting.

4. Short Description of the Figures

Aspects of the present invention are described in more detail in the following by reference to the accompanying figures. These figures show:

Fig. 1 a diagram illustrating a method and system for apparel and foot wear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present in vention;

Fig. 2 a diagram illustrating a method and system comprising a robotic actuator usable in apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 3 a diagram illustrating a clamping frame usable in apparel and foot wear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present in vention;

Fig. 4 a diagram illustrating a method and system comprising a robotic actuator and a clamping frame usable in apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present inven tion;

Fig. 5 a diagram illustrating operational details of a method and system for apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an embodi ment of the present invention; and

Fig. 6 a further diagram illustrating operational details of a method and system for apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present invention.

5. Detailed Description of some exemplary embodiments

In the following, some exemplary embodiments of the present invention are de scribed in more detail, with reference to processes and systems usable during ap parel and shoe manufacturing. While specific feature combinations are described in the following with respect to the exemplary embodiments of the present inven-tion, it is to be understood that the disclosure is not limited to such embodiments. In other words, not all features have to be present for realizing the invention, and the embodiments may be modified by combining certain features of one embodi ment with one or more features of another embodiment.

Figure 1 depicts a diagram illustrating a method and system too for apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present invention. A panel of source material 110 is provided in an essentially flat configuration. The source material may comprise any pliable material suitable for apparel and foot wear manufacturing such as leather, a textile, a non-woven, a polymer foil or film, etc. The source material may also be provided from a roll of material.

A cutting head 120, such as a laser cutting head, a water jet cutting head or a me chanical cutting head is arranged on one side of the panel of source material 110 (e.g. above the panel). The cutting head 120 may be adapted to be moved with re spect to the panel of source material 110. For instance, the cutting head 120 may be adapted to be moved along arbitrary, pre-programmed trajectories in a plane parallel to the panel of source material 110. Alternatively or additionally, the cut ting head 120 may be tilted.

The cutting head 120 may be configured to emit a laser beam 122 or a water jet 122 in direction of the source material 110 to cut a patch of material from the panel of source material 110. The shape of said patch that is being cut from the panel of source material 110 can essentially arbitrarily be adjusted by controlling the trajectory of the cutting head 120 during cutting, e.g. during the time period the cutting head 120 is emitting the laser beam or water jet 122. For instance, the cutting head 120 may be mounted onto or may comprise a controllable transla-tion stage having two independent actuation axes. In other embodiments, also the distance between the cutting head 120 and the surface panel of source material 110 (i.e. the height) maybe adjustable.

In some embodiments, the cutting head 120 may further comprise beam steering optics for the laser beam 122 that may be configured to control the location and / or the size of the laser beam 122 incident on the panel or roll of source material 110. In addition, the cutting head 120 may further comprise means for controlling the output power and / or pulse energy of the cutting laser beam 122.

On the other side of the panel of source material 110 (e.g. below the panel) an au tomated gripper 130, such as a vacuum gripper, an adhesion gripper and / or an electrostatic gripper may be arranged. The automated gripper 130 may comprise a metal (e.g. steel, aluminum, etc.) plate with air holes 132 through which air is sucked in to provide the automated gripper 130 with a gripping mechanism, e.g. a suction force. Such plate may not need to be a sperate component of the gripper 130 but it or it’s functionality may also be integrated into the gripper 130. To gen erate the suction force conventional vacuum generation such as a vacuum pump can be used. The metal plate of the automated gripper 130 can have a laser re-sistant surface finish (e.g. aluminum, anodized aluminum etc.) which cannot be cut using a cutting laser such as a C02 laser.

The automated vacuum gripper 130 may be configured to receive the patch of pli able material cut from the panel 110 of source material. For instance, the top sur-face of the automated gripper 130 may be attached to the panel 110 during the cutting procedure. For instance, due to the suction force applied via the air holes 132 the bottom surface of the panel 110 may be maintained in an essential flat configuration during cutting. After cutting is completed, e.g. after the cutting head 120 and /or the cutting point has completed the pre-programmed trajectory associated with the shape of the patch being cut from the panel or roll of source material 110, the automated gripper 130 can be translated to a target location where the cut patch or the cut patches are being processed further. While the re mainder of the panel of source material 110 stays at the same position as during cutting of the patch, the cut patch will remain attached to the top surface of the automated gripper 130 and thus will be transported to the target position.

Figure 2 shows a diagram illustrating a method and system comprising a robotic actuator 220 usable in apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an em bodiment of the present invention. The illustrated cutting system 200 may com-prise a cabinet construction 202. The cutting head 120 is positioned at the top of the cabinet 202 in order to cut from above. There may be a receiving slot 210 about halfway down the cabinet 202 that can receive the panel or roll of source material 110 to be cut. The lower part of the cabinet 202 is open to allow the ro botic actuator 220 to move in and out with the automated gripper (not shown; see Fig. 1).

As described above with respect to Fig. 1 the vacuum gripper can be attached to the bottom surface of the panel or roll of source material 110 while the cutting head 120 is moved along a trajectory that corresponds to the shape of the patch of pliable material being cut, e.g. via laser beam 122 such as a continuous C02 laser or a pulsed laser such as a femtosecond fiber laser.

In some embodiments, the source material 110 maybe clamped inside a clamping device such as a clamping frame (see Fig. 3) that may be configured to maintain the panel or roll of source material 110 in an essentially flat configuration prior to cutting, during cutting and / or after cutting is completed.

A user or a second robot (not shown) can insert the clamped panel of source ma-terial 110 into the horizontal slot 210 in the cabinet 202, so that the cutting head 120 (e.g. the laser source or water jet source) is arranged above the clamped panel 110. Of course, any other relative orientation of cutting head 120, clamped panel 110 and automated gripper is also possible as long as the cutting head 120 and the automated gripper are arranged on opposite sides of the clamped panel of source material 110. The robotic actuator 220 which is configured on one end with the automated gripper described above with reference to Fig. 1 extends into lower part of the cutting system 200, i.e. below the slot 210 for the panel or roll of source material 110.

The robotic actuator 220 can move with six degrees of freedom to manipulate the automated gripper with maximum movement freedom. In other embodiments, it may be also possible to use a much simpler robotic actuator or even a simple translation device that simply moves back and forth in a direction parallel to the surface of the panel of source material 110 such as to move the automated gripper into the cabinet 202, under the panel 110 and back out again.

The illustrated configuration provides a plurality of advantages. For instance, the cut patch or patches may effectively land on the automated gripper instead of needing to be picked up. Additionally, the automated gripper is not limited to picking up one patch at a time. Instead a plurality of patches can be cut in a short time by the cutting head 120 and picked up at the same time by the automated gripper. These patches can then also be placed simultaneously on the piece of ap parel or footwear being manufactured. As a consequence, the time saved in pick ing up and placing multiple patches may be substantial. In addition, the cutting design (e.g. the shape of the patches being cut) can be created to match the final placement of the patches relative to each other. Therefore, the positioning of the patches is easier than positioning each patch independently. The relative place ment of the patches can already be determined during cutting. As discussed above, this may be done by the cutting system 200 without requiring any addi tional vision system and / or machine vision equipment.

The cutting system 200 may further comprise heating means such as an infrared (IR) or hot air heat source at the entrance to the lower opening in the cabinet 202 so that as the robotic actuator 220 removes the cut patches, a hot melt on the top surface of the patches may be activated so that the patches can be immediately applied and attached to a piece of apparel or footwear being manufactured. Addi tionally or alternatively, the cutting system 200 may also comprise means for ap plying a dye and / or an adhesive (e.g. glue sprayers) to the upper surface of the patches after cutting.

Figure 3 shows a diagram illustrating a clamping frame 300 usable in apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present invention.

For instance, the clamping frame 300 may be used to clamp a panel of source ma-terial 110 inside the clamping frame 300. Such a clamping frame 300 may also be configured to be inserted into the cutting system 200 described above with refer enced to Fig. 2. The clamping frame 300 maybe adapted to maintain the panel of source material 110 in an essential flat configuration, specifically during cutting of the patches by the cutting head. In other words, the clamping frame may be used to clamp the panel of source material in position so that it does not move during the cutting.

The clamping frame 300 may comprise two halves 302 and 304. A first half 302 may be equipped with magnets in the outside of the frame. The other half 304 may be a metal frame that is attracted to the magnets arranged in the opposite half 302. The frame halves 302 and 304 both have openings in the center so that the clamped panel of source material 110 maybe exposed on both sides. One of the halves 302 may further comprise a handle or gripping site 306 that may be configured to be gripped by the operator or a robotic actuator that is configured to insert the clamping frame 300 into the cutting system 200 described above with reference to Fig. 2.

An example of the insertion process of the clamping frame 300 into the cutting system 200 is illustrated in Figure 4.

Figure 5 shows a diagram illustrating operational details of a method and system 500 for apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present invention. Specifically, it is shown how a cutting laser beam 122 (or water jet) is moved along a pre-programmed trajectory 502 on a top surface of a panel or roll of source material 110 in order to cut a patch 510 of pliable material from the panel or roll of source material 110. As discussed above with reference to Fig. 3, the panel of source material 110 may be clamped or attached to a clamping frame 300 that maybe configured to maintain the panel or roll of source material 110 in an essentially flat configuration during cutting. For instance, the clamping frame 300 may be adapted to ensure that the panel or roll of source material 110 comprises essentially no folds or creases or warps, in particular during cutting. Moreover, such a clamping frame 300 can also ensure that the panel 0 roll of source material 110 is not stretched during cutting. Thereby it can be avoided that the resulting patch or patches would return to an un-tensioned state after cutting and thus exhibit a wrong (e.g. too small) size.

While the patch 510 is being cut from the potentially clamped panel of source ma terial 110 an automated gripper 130 such as a vacuum gripper, an electrostatic gripper or an adhesion gripper can be arranged below the panel of source mate rial 110 and / or the clamping frame 300. The automated gripper 130 can also be connected to a robotic actuator 220 that holds the automated gripper 130 in place during cutting of the patch 510. In some embodiments the upper surface of the automated gripper 130 may be directly attached to the lower surface of the panel of source material 110 during cutting. Alternatively, there may also be some dis tance between both surfaces.

After the patch 510 is cut the robotic actuator 220 can transport the patch 510 to a target location where the patch 510 can then further be processed. For instance, at the target location, the cut patch 510 can be dyed, melted, combined with other components etc. Additionally, the robotic actuator 220 may also be configured to attach the cut patch 510 to other components (not shown) of the piece of apparel or footwear being manufactured. It is also possible that the laser beam 122 first cuts more than one patch from the panel of source material 110 before the robotic actuator 220 transports the plurality of cut patches 510 to one or several target lo cations for further processing.

Figure 6 shows a further diagram illustrating operational details of a method and system for apparel and footwear manufacturing according to an embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the panel of source material 110 is hold in place by a clamping frame 300. A gripper 130 can be arranged on one side of the panel of source material 110 (e.g. below the panel 110) and a laser cutting means 120 can be arranged on the opposite side of the panel of source material 110 (e.g. above the panel 110). In the depicted embodiment the system is config ured to cut more than one patch 510 from a single panel of source material 110 hold in place by the clamping frame 130. In some embodiments the spatial ar rangement of the cut patches 510 during cutting corresponds to the desired ar rangement of the cut patches on the piece of apparel (e.g. a shoe upper) to be manufactured. Said spatial arrangement is maintained while transporting the cut patches to the target location for further processing (e.g. for attaching the cut patches to the piece of apparel being manufactured) via the gripper 130.

The system of Fug. 6 may further comprise means for determining the location of the cut holes 520 inside the panel of source material 110 with respect to the clamping frame 300. In this way, the system can determine unused portions of the panel of source material 110 that may be used to cut further patches in a sub sequent iteration of the cutting procedure. For instance, the clamping frame may comprise sensor devices that allow to determine the location of the cut holes 520. Moreover, the control electronics and / or control software for the laser cutter 120 maybe configured to determine the location of the cut holes 520.

As a consequence, material waste can be reduced and system efficiency and man ufacturing speed can be enhanced.

In the following, further embodiments are described to facilitate the under standing of the invention:

1. Method for manufacturing a piece of apparel, in particular a shoe, compris ing:

a. cutting at least one patch from a panel or roll of source material with a cutting means;

b. receiving the at least one cut patch by an automated gripping means after cutting;

c. wherein the cutting means and the automated gripping means are ar ranged on opposite sides of the panel or roll of source material during cutting; and

d. translating the at least one cut patch with the automated gripping means to a target location after cutting.

2. Method according to embodiment 1, wherein receiving the at least one cut patch by the automated gripping means comprises attaching the at least one cut patch to a surface of the automated gripping means, preferably via a suc tion force, an electrostatic force and / or an adhesion force.

3. Method according to one of embodiments 1 or 2, further comprising contact ing the panel or roll of source material with a surface of the automated grip ping means at least partially during cutting.

4. Method according to one of embodiments 1 - 3, wherein the step of cutting the at least one patch from the panel or roll of source material comprises: cut ting at least two patches, preferably comprising a different shape, before translating the at least two patches to the target location.

5. Method according to one of embodiments 1 - 4, wherein the patch is a first component of the piece of apparel and the method further comprises attach ing the at least one cut patch, preferably with the automated gripping means, to a second component of the piece of apparel being manufactured.

6. Method according to one of embodiments 1 - 5, further comprising at least partially melting a surface of the at least one cut patch.

7. Method according to one of embodiments 1 - 6, further comprising applying an adhesive, a dye and / or a coating to the at least one cut patch.

8. Method according to one of embodiments 1 - 7, wherein the step of cutting the at least one patch from the panel or roll of source material comprises con trolling a cutting head of the cutting means such as to provide the at least one patch with a pre-programmed shape.

9. Method according to one of embodiments 1 - 8, further comprising maintain ing the panel or roll of source material in an essentially flat configuration dur ing cutting, preferably by using a clamping frame.

10. Method according to embodiment 9, further comprising determining the loca tion of at least one cut hole in the panel of source material relative to the clamping frame corresponding to the at least one cut patch.

11. Method according to one of embodiments 1 - 10, wherein the cutting means and the automated gripping means are arranged on opposite sides of the panel or roll of source material during the step of cutting and during the step of receiving the at least one patch.

12. System for manufacturing a piece of apparel, preferably a shoe, comprising: a. cutting means adapted to cut at least one patch from a panel or roll of source material;

b. automated gripping means adapted to receive the at least one cut patch after cutting;

c. wherein the cutting means and the automated gripping means are adapted to be arranged on opposite sides of the panel or roll of source material during cutting; and

d. wherein the automated gripping means is adapted to translate the at least one cut patch to a target location after cutting.

13. System according to embodiment 12, wherein the cutting means comprises a laser cutter, a water jet cutter and / or a mechanical cutter.

14. System according to one of embodiments 12 or 13, wherein a surface of the automated gripping means is adapted to be attached to a surface of the panel or roll of source material during cutting.

15. System according to one of embodiments 12 - 14, wherein the automated gripping means comprises a vacuum gripper, an electrostatic gripper and / or an adhesion gripper.

16. System according to one of embodiments 12 - 15, wherein the automated gripping means comprises a moveable gripping head adapted to be moved with respect to a cutting position in a direction essentially parallel to the panel or roll of source material.

17. System according to one of embodiments 12 - 16, wherein the automated gripping means comprise a moveable gripping head attached to a robotic ac tuator, preferably having six, preferably independent, actuation axes.

18. System according to one of embodiments 12 - 17, wherein the automated gripping means is further adapted:

a. to attach the at least one patch to a surface of the automated gripping means, preferably via a suction force, an electrostatic force and / or an adhesion force;

b. to maintain the panel or roll of source material in an essentially flat configuration during cutting; and / or

c. to attach the at least one patch to the piece of apparel or a component of the piece of apparel being manufactured; and / or

d. to rotate the at least one patch in space after cutting.

19. System according to one of embodiments 12 - 18, further comprising means for applying an adhesive, a dye and / or a coating to the at least one patch.

20. System according to one of embodiments 12 - 19, further comprising heating means for at least partially melting a surface of the at least one patch.

21. System according to one of embodiments 12 - 20, further comprising means for maintaining the panel or roll of source material in an essential flat config uration during cutting.

22. System according to embodiment 21, wherein the means for maintaining the panel or roll of source material in an essential flat configuration comprises a clamping frame allowing access to both sides of the panel or roll of source ma terial.

23. System according to embodiment 22, wherein the clamping frame comprises a top and a bottom portion adapted to clamp the panel or roll of source mate rial during cutting preferably via exerting a magnetic force between each other.

24. System according to one of the preceding embodiments 22 or 23, further comprising means for determining the location of at least one cut hole in the panel of source material relative to the clamping frame corresponding to the at least one cut patch.

25. System according to one of embodiments 12 - 24, wherein the cutting means comprises a controllable cutting head adapted to provide the at least one patch with a pre-programmed shape during cutting.

26. System according to embodiments 25, wherein the controllable cutting head comprises a controllable translation stage and / or controllable beam steering optics.

System according to one of embodiments 12 - 26, wherein the cutting means and the automated gripping means are adapted to be arranged on opposite sides of the panel or roll of source material during cutting and during receiv ing the at least one patch.