Nothing to wear? What if you could just push a button and print out a sweater? While it sounds like the stuff of science fiction, technology is revolutionizing the fashion industry in exciting ways—including the development of a 3-D printer for knitting.
Called Kniterate, the printer automatically turns digital designs into knitted garments. The computer-controlled printer is being developed for use by fashion designers, small clothing businesses, design studios and schools.
The brainchild of Gerard Rubio, a Spanish designer now based in London, Kniterate is modeled after industrial knitting machines. However, it is estimated to cost about ten times less and can be installed in any workshop.
Kniterate uses yarn to “print” digital clothing files. Users can design garments, edit templates or upload their own images and press “knit” via an easy-to-use internet platform. It can accept up to six different colors and different types of yarn.
The printer has hundreds of needles that are computer-controlled to create loops, which are combined to create knitwear. The needles move back and forth in waves to knit fabrics into shapes. Users can produce ready-to-wear items like scarves and hats, or items that require assembly, like a sweater.
Kniterate software is still under development. It will be available in a browser-based version and a Mac- and Windows-compatible standalone version. Files will be loaded onto the knitting machine via an SD card or USB. The design app will include an online library of templates that designers will be able to use to design, edit and share garments and accessories. For more, visit www.kniterate.com.