It’s hard to believe almost an entire year has gone by since we awarded our San Francisco-based Alternative Grant. For those just tuning in, the prize money and TechShop membership went to Electroloom developer Aaron Rowley – at the time, in the very early stages of concepting a personal 3D printer for clothing. After Fast Company took notice, Rowley and his team received support and interest from all over the world, taking their project to the next level. At last check, the team had made Electroloom their full-time focus, spending the majority of their free hours toiling away at TechShop to advance their prototype. What’s transpired in the last six months? Read on to find out.
So what’s happened since last time we talked?
Since we last spoke we joined an accelerator program in the Bay Area – Boost VC. The idea is that early stage companies receive help with their business and a small capital investment to get things off the ground and start building. The program culminated in a demo day at the end of October. We pitched a room of a few hundred investors and are hoping to leverage those leads into additional funding to build a larger team over the next few months.
What’s been your biggest victory to date?
It’s really interesting – as we discussed last, when we applied for the grant we were in the very early stages of development. We didn’t have anything substantial, just early conceptual designs. Now that we’ve spent a year to build the actual functional machine, it works close to how it was envisioned and reflects our original plans. Overall, it’s a bigger project than we first imagined which means we’ll need to spend more time working to overcome the challenges that have popped up along the way.
Tell us about the immediate challenges.
We want the technology to be able to make complex shapes. So far it can do somewhat complex shapes – we’ve made sheets, towels and pillowcases, all seamless. It can’t do a t-shirt yet, for example. It’s definitely possible, just a matter of figuring how to make the machine work that way.
What’s upcoming for 2015?
We’re approaching a year out from grants and there’s been so many ups and downs but now it actually works. Now we’re focused on improving the technology. On the materials side we want the end-result fabric to eventually be durable and diverse. Currently, it’s not very strong but it is very soft and cohesive. We would love to work with a materials scientist and chemist to improve the fabric.
Follow Aaron and his team’s progress on Electroloom here.
Written by Emily Michaels