June 01, 2004
Siemens Dressman Shirt Ironing Robot

Picture a mannequin. Siemens has made an automated shirt-ironing device shaped like the chest and arms of a mannequin (see the picture here) that one places a shirt on. Then the mannequin inflates and applies hot steam to a shirt and that takes out the wrinkles. The price for sale in Germany, 1,000, in Euros probably translates into a price one or two hundred dollars above a thousand dollars when it reaches the US. (same article here)

The main objective of the Dressman robot is to dry and press shirts. On placing a damp shirt on the ironing figure, this dummy inflates with hot air in its interior, and thus puffs the shirt up, removing creases drying the garment (it has to be previously wet and undergone a spin-dry in a washing machine). The device has a heater box inside with a number of different resistance elements. While we are placing the shirt on it, this box stores up heat in such a way that, when the garment is positioned and we press the start button, the whole ironing dummy fills with hot air which presses and dries the shirt. Moreover, the device has an air filter which prevents dirt entering the ironing dummy.

Since it isn't really a mechanical device calling it a robot may seem to stretch the definition of robot. After all, a dishwashing machine automates a human task and yet we do not think of it as a robot. Still, it does something that many may have expected would require a more complex robot to perform.

From a Siemens press release:

Stressed-out homemakers can now take a break and leave the iron in the closet. A new product from Siemens called "dressman" will soon at least take over the chore of ironing shirts. An Emnid survey confirms something we already know from personal experience: Ironing is one of the household chores that people hate the most. It also eats into precious free time, for even experienced ironers need about eight minutes to press a shirt. This new ironing assistant promises to deliver perfectly ironed shirts in no time. In Germany Siemens sold about 4.000 units within a few months. Now the company starts to market the device in other countries. The equipment looks like the upper body of the mannequins you see in store windows. A freshly washed shirt is simply pulled over the device, and any wrinkles are smoothed out. Twelve fully automatic programs for various types of shirts and materials take care of the rest: The shell made of balloon silk literally inflates itself with hot air and gets the shirts into shape. And the process is easy on the shirts because it uses low temperatures. Broken buttons and unsightly stains will also become things of the past, and additional functions can dry wet jackets or air out sports coats. Up to now, such automatic ironing systems have been available only for professional cleaners and laundries. These use high pressure and are hard on the material as a result. They are also big and expensive. The dressman, which costs about 1,000, is not exactly inexpensive, but it works very economically. The operating costs amount to only five cents per shirt. By comparison, it costs about 2 at the cleaners not including the cost of getting there. (IN 2004.02.6)

4,000 of these puppies have already been sold in Germany and from a press release date it appears it went on sale in February 2004 there. Are there any German readers who have one who can comment on how well they work? Siemens is starting to introduce this device in other countries. Anyone outside of Germany seen one for sale yet?

This leads to the obvious question: Is Siemens going to produce a Pantsman for ironing pants? One complication there is the crease that we expect pants to have ironed into them. Anyone have a home pants pressing machine?

Take home lesson? It is possible to automate additional common household tasks without waiting for the development of artificially intelligent robots.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 June 01 05:55 PM  Robots Home

David Nishimura said at June 2, 2004 5:55 PM:

From what I've read, the Siemens device is basically a consumer version of a machine already in near-universal use in commercial laundries. And as long as I can get my shirts laundered and pressed at three for $5, the "robot" sounds like more trouble than it's worth.

JDR said at June 22, 2004 2:10 PM:

David is correct. The larger commerical launderies in operation today nearly all use a much more advanced version of this robotic(?) device, all of which will give a far superior finish. I say stick with using your local laundry service - it's a lot more convenient and I would guess no more expensive in the long run.

an said at July 5, 2004 12:55 PM:

The worse (after price) in this story is the time needed to iron something. 7-8 minutes for an ordinary cotton shirt up to 15 ?? unless very difficult stuff, I rwould stil rely on my iron machine ;).

skillet said at October 4, 2004 8:22 PM:

There is also the matter of positioning the wet shirt on the device-- something that may carry a greater time/ annoyance cost than a two-step dryer plus iron approach. In a consumer setting, the electric iron may prevail as a "good enough" technology.

Justin McGeeney said at December 5, 2004 4:03 PM:

Driving back and forth to the dry-cleaners is one of the biggest hastles of my day, especially as a college student. I think the dress man will be a huge success in households. The only drawback is that it is quite pricy. If the company can figure out a way to drop the price, it will not only be a hit in households, but it has the potential to be a college dorm room necessity.

Orlando said at March 11, 2005 6:16 AM:

Why not just come up with a big hot air blowing dummy in your laundry :) ?

i would buy one cause i hate ironing but until its drops to a reasonable price i will just heat the iron whilst i do something else and iron my shirt which takes me no more than three minutes.

Joe M said at October 27, 2006 7:35 AM:

Once this machine hits the US for mass production. I am sure the price will go down. Over the years I have spent close to $100/month on dry cleaning and laundering. The professional press is outstanding. However, now that I have children in college my drycleaning days are over. I have a steamer and a pants press. However, I have not worn a dress shirt in over 3 years. I do miss the necktie and smartly pressed dress shirt. I would buy the machine if it were priced in the $250 range. At $1000 I will continue to wear my casual shirts.

Wim Putzeys said at February 11, 2007 11:51 AM:

I've used it, and if you actually want your dress shirt ironed, use an iron or take it to the drycleaner. Unless you wear a suit over it all the time, the unsightly wrinkles under the arm will spoil your smart looks. Better roll up your sleeves too, since the shirt cuffs don't come out particularly well pressed. My advice: postpone your purchase until Siemens has ironed out these shortcomings.

Mrs. Vivian Atenaga said at January 6, 2010 6:54 AM:

i think this automated shirt ironer is a big relief. i have a laundry in Nigeria and i have been looking for a way to make my job easy. can this machine be used commercially? how many shirt can it iron in an hour?

Kevin Wardlaw said at February 11, 2010 1:35 PM:

Attn: Dressman Representative
Please call me regarding your machine.
Thank you.

Anymale said at June 23, 2010 11:57 PM:

1000 Euros ?? In my country I pay 50eu/month a lady from Paraguay to iron my shirts once a week and I can have also pants, t-shirts or any other piece of clothes. No competitive machine for latin america. Extremely expensive.

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