A new process for manufacturing distressed denim cuts down on production time as well as environmental impact

In order to produce a pair of pre-washed or distressed jeans, factory workers will meticulously sand down sections and apply harsh chemicals to make brand new jeans look old. They will also run them through several washing machine cycles until the dark indigo color is faded and bleeds into the distressed areas. Unfortunately, this production process can be harmful to both the environment and the factory workers closely involved with their manufacturing.

Levi’s is taking notice of the large impact clothing production has on the environment with a new laser-etching device that effectively burns a distressed pattern on to a new pair of jeans. The company has developed a device that uses an infrared laser to create the distressed denim look almost instantly, without the need for extensive processing.

The laser strips a minute layer of the dyed cotton on a pair of jeans, creating a faded finish. The entire process takes just 90 seconds, rather than the hours it took before.

The software that powers the device also cuts down on the time necessary for a design team to create a custom look. Designers can send their creations to the etcher right away and produce a nearly instant prototype rather than having each prototype made by hand.

With the new process, which comes out of the brand’s Eureka Innovation Lab, Levi’s is hoping to dramatically cut down on lead time, as well as create a more sustainable path forward for denim production.

Levi’s

In order to produce a pair of pre-washed or distressed jeans, factory workers will meticulously sand down sections and apply harsh chemicals to make brand new jeans look old. They will also run them through several washing machine cycles until the dark indigo color is faded and bleeds into the distressed areas. Unfortunately, this production process can be harmful to both the environment and the factory workers closely involved with their manufacturing.

Levi’s is taking notice of the large impact clothing production has on the environment with a new laser-etching device that effectively burns a distressed pattern on to a new pair of jeans. The company has developed a device that uses an infrared laser to create the distressed denim look almost instantly, without the need for extensive processing.