Cheap, disposable fashion is not only an environmental problem, but is also about companies giving their workers unfair wages and unsafe working environments. Various solutions to this widespread problem include shopping at thrift stores, clothing swaps, buying local and handmade, but making your own clothes can also be a way to ensure that your clothes are ethically made -- by you.
For those of us who have no desire to learn how to knit (despite its noted health benefits) and want to add an element of tinkering and tech, there's OpenKnit, an open-source, do-it-yourself 3D printer for clothing that can be digitally fabricate garments from a computer file in about an hour. Created by Spanish designer Gerard Rubio, the OpenKnit project is purportedly the world's first open source 3D knitter and came about as part of Rubio's university experiments in synthesizing 3D printing technologies with textiles.
Rubio has now made the instructions to build your own 3D knitting machine available online (approximate cost is USD $757), in addition to building an "open source knitting" community where 3D knitters can showcase and share their creations. The OpenKnit printer runs on open source software Knitic, which will further evolve as more and more people tinker with it, says Rubio on Ecouterre:
I wish [OpenKnit] generates enthusiasm in makers and tinkerers so more machines are created, that way a community would flourish and the project would evolve collectively and organically, since every new user becomes a developer. The possibilities of this technology are awesome. The next milestone, beside improving its reliability, is to develop the ability to create two color patterns. Can’t wait for that.
We're eager to see the impact that small-scale projects such as this in empowering the individual maker and DIY communities, rather than remaining reliant on big, unaccountable companies. More over at Ecouterre and OpenKnit.