Some days, while covering the 3D printing space, I feel as though I have entered a time machine, pressed a few buttons and ended up 100 years into the future. This happened when I saw the first building constructed with a 3D printer and on numerous times since then. However, this latest story is one which seems so futuristic that it is almost hard to believe.
Launching on Kickstarter just yesterday, a device called the Electroloom looks to come to market. The Electroloom is a 3D printer unlike any 3D printer you have probably ever imagined. It has the ability to 3D print fabric using a process similar to the electroplating of metals.
“Inspired by 3D printers, the maker movement, and accessible design, we set out to build a technology that enables people to design and manufacture clothes from scratch,” the developers behind the Electroloom explained. “And now, after a year and a half of development, we’re ready to find our first set of alpha testers.”
The electroloom looks similar to a conventional 3D printer in some ways, but it functions in a way completely dissimilar. The Electroloom uses a process by which an electric field is utilized in order to determine where a special liquid nano-fiber solution is guided. Users create a template either by hand or via CAD software, which can be made up of virtually any material, such as cardboard, vinyl, etc., and then place this template into the machine’s build chamber. From there, the electric field pulls the liquid solution directly onto the user created template, coating it evenly with a custom polyester/cotton blend, or other fabric of choice. Currently they are working on several materials including silk and acrylic as well. Once complete, the covered template is removed from the machine and the fabric should slide right off.
“Traditional 3D printed garments are typically constructed of intricate connections, like joints, that allow the material to bend and move, effectively creating chain-mail that mimics how fabrics actually move. Our material, however, is flexible and light by nature,” the Electroloom creators write. “It’s composed of countless tiny fibers (on the micro and even nano-meter scale), meaning all of your designs are guaranteed to flex, drape, and fold just like you would expect fabrics to do!”
As for the specifications of the machine, they can be seen below:
- Total dimensions: 1000mm x 1080mm x 620mm
- Interior chamber: 900mm x 900mm x 600mm
- Maximum mold size: 800mm x 900mm
- Voltage range: 2-19kV
- Computer connection: USB
To find their first alpha testers, and raise additional funding, Electroloom decided to use crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. They are offering this incredible device to early-bird alpha testers starting at just $4,500, and they are looking to raise a total of $50,000. So far they seem to be well on their way of this goal, as in just less than one day they have already raised $13,700.
What do you think of this creation? Will this revolutionize custom clothing manufacturing? Discuss in the Electroloom forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below.