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Walmart and unspun collaborate on 3D fabric weaving technology pilot project

Company News, News | March 18, 2024 | By:


Walmart announced a pilot project with unspun, an Oakland, Calif.-based fashion tech company using the world’s first 3D weaving technology. Through the collaboration, the companies aim to reduce the environmental impact of garment production and offer a more sustainable way to meet apparel demand.

The project is focused on waste such as fabric loss from traditional flat weaving, cutting and garment assembly, and discarded extra inventory created to meet growing consumer demand and fashion trends.

“At Walmart, we are laser-focused on bringing innovation to our supply chain to better serve our customers and solve industry challenges, and unspun has the potential to do just that,” says Andrea Albright, executive vice president of sourcing at Walmart. “The technology we are piloting with unspun has the potential to unlock more skilled job creation in the U.S., meet consumer demand for locally made garments and deliver on our commitment for greater transparency and sustainability in our apparel supply chain.”

In the pilot project, the two companies will explore how unspun’s 3D weaving machines can be used to make workwear style pants under a Walmart house brand. With 3D weaving, yarn is spun directly into completed garments. This is an innovative and new approach to garment manufacturing. Traditionally, yarn is woven into one-dimensional fabrics, which are then cut and assembled into garments – creating waste and taking significant time and multiple manufacturing steps. The 3D weaving process is different from commonly known 3D printing, which creates a physical object from a digital design by laying down thin layers of liquid or powdered plastic, metal or cement.

The two companies aspire to deepen the collaboration into later phases should the pilot prove successful. unspun, in collaboration with a manufacturing partner, hopes to ultimately deploy additional microsites around the U.S. for on- and near-shored manufacturing, with locations to be determined. unspun has an ambition to have 350 machines in the U.S. by 2030.

“The pressing need to address ongoing climate change, reduce carbonization and drive to more transparent and localized apparel manufacturing practices is at the heart of our mission,” says Beth Esponnette, co-founder of unspun. “We have been running low-volume production of commercial products at our first micro factory with proven third-party life cycle assessments to back the impact of this new type of production. Now, together with Walmart, we see an enormous opportunity to take our innovations to scale, with the potential to disrupt the garment manufacturing industry, bring jobs to the USA and drastically reduce waste in apparel.”

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