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What If You Could Make Custom Clothes With the Click of a Button?

January 21, 2014
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What If You Could Make Custom Clothes With the Click of a Button?
Courtesy Electroloom
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images
Forget ready-to-wear. Electroloom hopes to make 3D-print-to-wear apparel a reality.

For fashionistas, on-demand apparel sounds too good to be true. But a new startup called Electroloom is developing a 3D printer that would be able to create basic clothes, like t-shirts and sweaters, with a push of a button. The product, created by entrepreneur Aaron Rowley, is not fully developed yet, but it recently won a grant from Alternative Apparel, an Atlanta-based apparel company that is dedicated to social responsibility and eco-conscious design, due to the product’s focus on sustainability. “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 Fast Company. “So a goal of this project is to reduce the amount of embodied energy in an article of clothing.”

So far, the Electroloom has managed to print sheets and tubes of polymer fabrics. With support from the Alternative Grant, the team will try more complicated patterns and fibers that more closely resemble cotton. (Natural fibers like cotton are easily destroyed during printing.) Eventually, Rowley envisions the Electroloom brand as an open-source concept, including an online database of workable designs crowdsourced by users. The Electroloom should be ready for an end-of-2014 launch, just in time for the stylish set to print some clothes for fashion week.

MORE: These College Students Couldn’t Afford a 3D Printer. So They Built One.

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