3D printing is expected to revolutionize the world of manufacturing as soon as it becomes more accessible and affordable. Practically everyone will be able to design and produce their own sculptural and practical household objects. Theoretically, 3D printers would also enable us to create spare parts for and repair broken items, freeing us from dependence on overseas factories where employee and environmental protections efforts may be lacking. Just imagine if we could apply this technology to textiles and effortlessly produce our own clothing, too.
Meet the Kniterate, a digital knitting machine that brings fashion fabrication into your home. Built like a compact version of an industrial knitting machine, the Kniterate lets you design and “print” your own garments. Make a scarf, sweater, beanie, tie, or dress, either as one-off designs or in larger quantities. You can then choose to keep your creations or to sell them for extra cash!
Knitwear is easily customizable and, since it’s knitted exactly to shape, produces less waste than other kinds of garments. The usual downside, however, is that it requires a lot of skill and expensive equipment to produce. Most industrial knitting machines cost upwards of $50,000 and require extensive training to operate, but the Kniterate is designed to be accessible to everyone. The machine is computer-controlled and can automatically transfer stitches, cast on and off, shape, and knit cables.
The Kniterate is pre-programmed with a library of templates and comes equipped with up to six feeders, each of which supplies the device with a different color or material per the requirements of each design. If you even have a picture of a garment you’d like to recreate, you can simply upload into the system. The Kniterate’s ability to access an online database is probably one of its most convenient features and can save you the headaches of having to count stitches and estimate clothing sizes and proportions. Anyone who has ever hand-knitted anything more complex than scarves or socks will attest to the amount of math involved in this process. The Kniterate makes things as easy as inputting measurements and selecting one of several available stitch patterns. Online, you’ll also be able to write text, change fonts, free-draw with a pen tool in various thicknesses and colors, and share your designs with other users. Once you’ve inputted your completed design, the Kniterate springs into action. It can complete a beanie in just under an hour or a sweater in as little as five.
The Kniterate’s discounted Kickstarter price of $4,799—and the eventual retail price of $7,499—might seem steep but is still significantly cheaper than the average industrial knitting machine. Plus, it’s important to consider the Kniterate’s role as a piece of technology that is certain to change the entire textile industry in the near future. The company’s Kickstarter campaign has already surpassed its initial $100,000 goal by upwards of half a million dollars. All “Early Bird” packages are now sold out, so consider buying one before the price goes up any further!
If you could get your hands on an automated knitting machine, what pieces and patterns would you create?