About this project
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. And now, after a year and a half of development, we're ready to find our first set of alpha testers. Introducing, the Electroloom Developer Kit.
What it can make
Skirts! Available as a reward to backers!
Tank tops! Available as a reward to backers!
And even a child-sized dress! Cute decorations not included.
These are just a handful of examples that we came up with to help demonstrate the capabilities of the Electroloom--and showcase that what it produces can actually be worn.
But these are far from limitations. We are most excited to see what you come up with to design and create--wearable or not! Make curtains or doilies or scarves or lampshades. We can't wait to be surprised and impressed by what you're able to create with the Electroloom Alpha.
What it is
The Electroloom Developer Kit is a tool for designing and manufacturing custom 3D fabrics. When interacting with our machine, there is no need for thread, needles, or sewing. Instead, our users need only some simple CAD skills to design their patterns, and the Electroloom does the rest.
Behind the scenes, our technology reduces the traditional textile manufacturing process into a single step. Instead of sending raw material through factories where it undergoes numerous processing steps to create a traditional textile, we are able to directly convert raw material to finished good.
The design process
How it works
We use an electrospinning process to convert liquid solutions into solid fibers which are then deposited onto a 3D mold. We call this process Field Guided Fabrication, or FGF. Essentially, an internal electric field inside of the machine's chamber guides fibers onto a 3D shape, where they bond together. Most people say it looks like magic. We tend to agree.
By the time the job is done, the numerous fibers that have been deposited will have formed a single, seamless piece of fabric that retains the shape of the mold.
We are currently working with a custom polyester/cotton blend, which is compatible with the stock molds that the Electroloom Developer Kit ships with, and can be used to test your own custom and DIY molds. Fabrics are shipped as liquids in "pods" which are placed into the machine prior to each job.
We don't have prices for replacement fabric solutions just yet as we are hard at work on sourcing quality bulk materials for the best prices. Replacement solutions will be available for order through our website, and the Developer Kits will ship with 1.5L of polyester solution--enough to make at least 7 beanies, 4 tank tops, or 3 skirts!
How we're different
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. 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!
So why Developer Kits?
Electroloom is still in its infancy; we've only been working on the technology for about a year and a half. This dev kit launch with our alpha units is so that we can start to open a feedback loop outside of our own team. Kickstarter is filled with the early adopters, DIYers, and eager-for-new-tech type of people we're hoping want to experiment with Electroloom.
This dev kit program is a way for us to engage with early adopters, who in many ways will be the pioneers responsible for bringing this technology to fruition. We're looking for people who want to use, explore, break, hack, and improve our machines, so that ultimately we can provide a more robust and reliable technology.
Ultimately, this campaign is all about building relationships. We're here to support you--from helping with bugs, to providing design help, to even manufacturing and shipping you molds if you are unable to create them yourselves. We're excited to engage with you, and to help you be as creative as possible.
Total dimensions: 1000mm x 1080mm x 620mm
Interior chamber: 900mm x 900mm x 600mm
Maximum mold size: 800mm x 900mm
Voltage range: 2-19kV (<500 microamps)
Computer connection: USB
It feels like we've come a long way in just a year and a half. We literally started experimenting with chopsticks on our kitchen floor! We've gradually refined our processes and added more control to our machine.
We finally think it's at a point where we can start to share it with people and learn from a growing community of designers and developers.
What we're already working on
This program is just the beginning for us, and we already have lots of things in our pipeline to prepare for where we want the future of Electroloom to be.
Color! We don't want Electroloom's future fabrics to stay white forever. Even though you can already dye existing Electroloom fabric any color you'd like, we are aiming to eliminate that extra step and produce colored fabrics with a single click. Our early tests are already working, and now we have a skilled materials scientist on board to help refine colors even further.
We are also working to expand the range of materials compatible with Electroloom. So far, we have our custom polyester/cotton blend working, and we are well into optimizing our silk and acrylic fiber solutions. As you can see from the SEM images below, our process is truly capable of creating nanometer-scale fibers!
We couldn't have made it here alone, and wanted to say thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way. Brit, EJ, everyone at Alternative Apparel, Adam, Brayton, Duncan, Cyril, Ben, Kristen, Arnold, Bruce, Tim, Billy, Brad, Steve and Cinesthetics, Viet, Mared, and Mac House Productions, everyone at Boost and HAX, and too many more to list. Thank you for believing in us and helping us get this far.
Risks and challenges
This is a new technology that has a considerable amount of development in its future. There are a lot of technical challenges that we need resources and time to solve. We want to ensure that our dev kits are not only functional in their early stage, but safe and reliable.
Rather than committing to a large volume of dev kits, we are limiting the number of units we are producing. This not only provides us and our testers a more intimate, responsive experience, but ensures that we do not stretch ourselves too thin if things go wrong. As stated previously, we will be learning a good deal from this dev kit program, and by limiting the quantity of units delivered we better enable our team to respond to and tackle tough issues.
The machines themselves are fairly simple, and easy to build, so we'll be doing this ourselves to test each of these dev units before they go out. Moreover, because of the small size of this production run, it means that we are dealing with a more manageable supply chain. After spending 4 months in Shenzhen, China establishing relationships with vendors and manufacturers, we are ready to manage this volume of Developer Kits.
Because we deal with electric fields and sophisticated electronics, we want to ensure that we are not introducing any hazards to our users. Outside of preparing for shipping and fine tuning our kits, we are actively working with experts in electrical engineering to ensure that our devices pass all required safety regulations.
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