The once successful Kickstarter and National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant winner Electroloom is saying “Thanks and Farewell” to its backers, supporters, and sponsors. The startup ran out of funding while developing printer-like machine that uses electrospinning to automatedly produce ready-to-use garments.
Electroloom has been an ambitious project to explore if electrospinning could be made viable for garment manufacturing. The process that uses a high voltage to transform a resinous liquid into non-woven fabric was originally invented for textile fabrication, although its low throughput has always been a limiting factor. The method was mostly used in laboratory and medical applications. In 2014, Electroloom began developing a process that would bring the technology back to its fibrous roots, building an amazing prototype machine that could print an entire shirt in one piece. Electroloom’s Kickstarter campaign was funded in 2015, and earlier this year, an NSF research grant was awarded to the startup.
Nevertheless, the development progress that should bring forth a series of ready-to-use garment printers never progressed far beyond the originally presented machine. When Electroloom announced that it was working on an “Electroloom Mini”, a machine that could print a sock in child size, the company was scraping the bottom of its funding barrel.
Despite the sad news, we congratulate Electroloom for their achievements and push towards fully automated garment production, a challenge and opportunity that is still open. In their farewell notice, the Electroloom founders mentioned poorly defined market opportunities as one of the reasons for the miss. What do our readers think? Is there a market for high-tech shirts that don’t come from Bangladeshi factories? Let us know in the comments!