Laundry Bot Tackles The Tedium Of T-Shirt Folding

T-shirt folding robot

Roomba aside, domestic robots are still in search of the killer app they need to really take off. For the other kind of home automation to succeed, designers are going to have to find the most odious domestic task and make it go away at the push of the button. A T-shirt folding robot is probably a good first step.

First and foremost, hats off to [] for his copious documentation on this project. Not only are complete instructions for building the laundry bot listed, but there’s also a full use-case analysis and even a complete exploration of prior art in the space. [Stefano]’s exhaustive analysis led to a set of stepper-actuated panels, laser-cut from thin plywood, and arranged to make the series of folds needed to take a T-shirt from flat to folded in just a few seconds.

The video below shows the folder in action, and while it’s not especially fast right now, we’ll chalk that up to still being under development. We can see a few areas for improvement; making the panels from acrylic might make the folded shirt slide off the bot better, and pneumatic actuators might make for quicker movements and sharper folds. The challenges to real-world laundry folding are real, but this is a great start, and we’ll be on the lookout for improvements.

13 thoughts on “Laundry Bot Tackles The Tedium Of T-Shirt Folding

  1. Or you could just put the shirt in a bin of clean t-shirts, and after wearing it for ten minutes it will be indistinguishable from one that was carefully folder, assuming you used fabric softener and had appropriate drying process parameters.

    1. Ha ha – I’ve been trying to convince my wife about the 10-minute rule for ages! Works for smart shirts as well (i.e. those with collars) if you put them on a coat hanger to dry while still damp from the washing machine.

  2. The obvious issue is that the T-shirt is not folded at all – the sleeves just slide down and are crumpled.

    If the setup is flipped upside down, then the sleeves could be just dropped and then slid under the body…

    1. Possibly a light amount of vacuum applied to the sleeves could hold them to the folding grid until the flap is almost through its full rotation, i.e. almost parallel to the shirt body. With that, the sleeve should lay flat, or at least flatter and smoother than what is shown in the video.

      1. If anyone started to do something like what has been done with Rubik’s cubes and high end robots and vision technology, this would be more nanoseconds per fold.

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