As soon as the end of this year, consumers could be 3D printing their own clothing at home.
Electroloom, a new company founded in September 2013 by entrepreneur Aaron Rowley, is working to create the world’s first personal 3D printer for clothes.
“Our vision of a desktop 3D printer is one that enables anyone to design and create unique articles of apparel,” the company website notes.
The company is still in its infancy, raising funds to help carry out the vision and testing the first Electroloom prototype. They recently received a grant from Atlanta-based Alternative Apparel, known for making casual clothing from organic cotton and recycled fibers, to support development of the loom that could ultimately mean more sustainable manufacturing.
“Something we are compelled by is embodied energy [which is] essentially the amount of energy that was used to take a raw material to a finished good,” Rowley told Co.Design. “So a goal of this project is to reduce the amount of embodied energy in an article of clothing.”
So far, the Electroloom prototype has been able to print sheets and tubes of polymer fabric. A video on the company’s Facebook page shows the first day of prototyping, which the visionary startup said went better than expected.
With the Alternative Grant, Electroloom intends to work on printing T-shirts and fibers that are more like cotton. Natural fibers don’t hold up well during the printing process so until a solution is uncovered during the testing phase, the company will use mostly synthetic fibers for production.
The idea is that, sooner than later, Electroloom will have a database of crowd-sourced designs and consumers can get their hands on the design process.
A one-year membership to San Francisco’s TechShop was awarded to the company as part of the Alternative Grant, according to Co.Design, and Alternative Apparel president Erik Joule and Soma founder Mike Del Ponte will mentor the Electroloom team and help them work toward building a solid prototype by year end.