Mar 7, 2016 | By Kira

Last year, the innovative Electroloom 3D clothing printer hit Kickstarter, successfully raising over $82,000 and literally re-defining what could be meant by ‘fast fashion.’ Capable of 3D printing seamless, ready-to-wear garments based on custom 3D geometries, the Electroloom captured the attention of everyone from fashion designers to materials scientists to at-home makers. As the company prepares to ship out its first batch of Alpha units, it has decided to unveil the Electroloom Mini, a smaller-sized machine that can 3D print fibrous and flexible fabric in under 20 minutes.

Electroloom’s technology relies on a proprietary liquid solution and an ‘electrospinning’ process they have dubbed Field Guided Fabrication (FGF), which allows for the direct conversion of raw material into a finished good, with absolutely zero sewing, and only basic CAD skills required.

Users begin by creating a mold of the desired garment, be it a skirt, tank top, or even a child-sized dress. The mold can be designed in 3D CAD modeling software, a 2D graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator, or it can even be handmade from just about any fabric. The mold is inserted into the Electroloom 3D printer’s chamber, followed by the proprietary liquid solution. During the FGF process, the solution is guided onto the mold by an electric field, coating and binding the nano-fibers into a seamless, cohesive, 3D fabric.

The Electroloom Mini uses the exact same technology as the larger Electroloom system, however as the name implies, it is decidedly smaller. While that means it can’t be used to create an entire skirt in one go, it can 3D print small pieces of colored polyester fabric in 20 minutes or less. This makes it ideal for testing new materials, experimenting with new garment molds, or transporting to trade shows and conferences.

Another exciting revelation is that, whereas originally, the Electroloom could only 3D print white fabrics, company has successfully managed to create vibrant colored fabrics without the need for secondary dying, water usage, or post-processing. In fact, according to the company, garments created with the Electroloom 3D clothing printer use 292 times less water than a traditionally manufactured garment.

Colored Electroloom fabrics created in a single step (white Electroloom fabric shown on bottom).

As the Electroloom Mini demo video below demonstrates, elecrospinning can also be used to incorporate thermochromic pigments into the colored fabrics, i.e. pigments that change color in response to changes in temperature. This opens the door to creating responsive 3D printed wearables—a major trend in the fashion and textiles industries today.

The team behind Electroloom has been delivering sample 3D printed fabric rewards to Kickstarter backers since November 2015, however they are still working on shipping out the first round of Electroloom Alpha units, which will be tested by the community and used to improve subsequent iterations. In the meantime, the company has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and it will be travelling to various trade shows and conferences around the country with its new and portable Electroloom Mini in tow. Check out the short demo video below to see this innovative 3D clothing printer in action:

 

 

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I. A. M. Magic wrote at 3/8/2016 11:16:54 AM:

I've got 2 questions: 1. Is it really additive manufacturing? 2. How safe is it? will I get a rash if I wear it (I hope not). There are a few studies that show that mainstream technologies (FFF, SLA, SLS) are actually bad for your health, will this one be one too?



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