A new making device launched this week that enables printing of clothing.
It’s the Electroloom and it uses quite a different concept. We’re not quite sure it’s 3D printing, but it is similar in concept and actually can use 3D printing in its process. They say it was "inspired" by 3D printing.
Essentially, the Electroloom is a molding device. You provide a simple, 2D or 3D physical mold using a separate process (which could be 3D printing) and mount it inside the Electroloom. The machine then sprays a proprietary liquid solution on the mold, which adheres via an electric field. This liquid is cured and solidifies into the shape of the original mold, but has fabric-like properties. In other words, it’s clothing!
So far the team behind the project has produced simple articles of clothing such as skirts and tank tops, but it’s very likely more complex shapes can be produced in the same process, given suitable production of molds.
The molding process is fascinating to watch, as the Electroloom sprays the fibrous solution in a precise manner towards the mold.
There are numerous limitations at this point, but one key barrier is size. The Electroloom includes a maximum 2D mold size of 800 x 900mm, which should accommodate most articles of clothing. Just don’t try to produce a tent!
The Electroloom is not cheap. The early-bird offer on their crowdfunding page lists at USD$4,500, and prices rise once they’re gone. We suspect a retail price of around USD$6,000 or more may be the price you’ll pay if they succeed.
It’s an interesting concept and we’re curious to see how it is received.