World’s first 3D fabric printer to make future clothing custom, seamless and a perfect fit

In the future we could be both better and more uniquely dressed, thanks to the development of a 3D fabric printer; the first of its kind.

Although not yet ready for large-scale production, the Electroloom is an exciting prospect, enabling its users to design and print seamless clothing that perfectly fits their frame.

The printer, which is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter and looks set to comfortably exceed its goal, uses a technique called field-guided fabrication to produce garments.

This takes the form of a CAD-developed 3D mold placed inside the printer, which the printer deposits solid fibres onto, building up the final garment.

The fibres themselves are shipped as a liquid solution, but the printer converts them using an electrospinning process, before guiding them onto the mold using an electric field.

Surprisingly, the team behind Electroloom say the fibres are a custom polyester/cotton blend, although presumably there are some additional elements that enable it to to be shipped in a liquid form.

Images courtesy of Electroloom.

Images courtesy of Electroloom.

At present, the printer doesn’t exactly pose a threat to the mainstream fashion industry. The garments that the Electroloom team have used to demonstrate its capabilities – a shirt, a tank top and a beanie – are all plain and fairly unfinished looking, and the device is targeted at makers rather than fashionistas.

However, this very early days. The 3D fabric printer is currently being offered through Kickstarter as an alpha developer kit, priced at $5,000, and it will be very interesting to see how it is used by developers when they get their hands on it.

On the campaign page the team also highlight that there will be later versions of the printer based in how the first version is received.

“Electroloom is still in its infancy; we’ve only been working on the technology for about a year and a half,” the team said.

“This dev kit launch with our alpha units is so that we can start to open a feedback loop outside of our own team.”

Future additions are likely to include additional fabric colours – makers using the first version will need to dye the fabric themselves once they’ve made their garment – and fabrics, with the Electroloom team already working on experimental silk and acrylic blend alternatives.

Assuming their first version is well received and improved, future versions could have a profound impact on the way we dress.

Standardised clothing sizes leave many people stuck with ill-fitting garments and generic, carbon copy styles. but a 3D clothing printer could enable people to wear clothes that fit perfectly and designed to their own personal tastes.

If a device such as this were to become common, it would transform what we wear for the better, prompting currently impossible fashions to become common, and making stylish, well-fitting clothing within the reach of the masses.

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The UK government is launching a fintech competition to help renters get on the property ladder

The UK government is offering £2 million to fintech developers who come up with a tool that lets renters record and share their payment data.

The Rent Recognition Challenge, which was first announced as part of the chancellors’ autumn budget, will task developers with finding a way to record payment data from Britain’s 11 million renters in a bid to improve their credit scores and ultimately help them to get a mortgage.

“Most lenders and Credit Reference Agencies are unable to take rental data into account, because they don’t have access to it.

“The Rent Recognition Challenge will challenge firms to develop an innovative solution to this problem and help to restore the dream of home ownership for a new generation,” said the economic secretary to HM Treasury, Stephen Barclay.

Economic secretary to HM Treasury, Stephen Barclay. Image courtesy of Chris McAndrew

The competition will provide an initial round of grant funding to six promising proposals to help turn their ideas into workable products.

A panel of leading figures from the Fintech sector will then whittle the six down to just a handful of teams who will receive further funding and support to bring their ideas to market.

“People’s monthly rent is often their biggest expense, so it makes sense for it to be recognised when applying for a mortgage. Without a good credit score, getting a mortgage can be a real struggle.”

Image courtesy of Jeff Djevdet

The government’s attempt to help more people out of private renting arrangements and into home ownership comes after Scottish Widows published a report that warned tomorrow’s pensioners will have to find huge amounts of money to pay ever-escalating rents to private landlords.

Scottish Widows projected one in eight retirees will be renting by 2032, which works out to three times the number renting today. It also said there is a £43bn gap between the income and savings people have now and what the rent bill will be in retirement.

Speaking to the Guardian, Dan Wilson Craw of campaign group Generation Rent said: “The common perception is that retirees either own their home outright or have a council tenancy, so the government will be in for a nasty shock as more of us retire and continue to rent from a private landlord.

“Many renters relying on pensions will qualify for housing benefit which will put greater strain on the public finances.”

The Rent Recognition Challenge will open to applications early in the New Year, and development will conclude in October 2018.