For many industry experts 3D printing promises a consumerist future where goods are no longer physically delivered to the customer. Every home will have a 3D printer that is used to print out designs of products that are downloaded from cyberspace. Joshua Harris’ clothing printer is a vision of how this may pan out for clothing production and distribution in 2050.
Harris, an industrial designer, examined how clothing is currently manufactured and delivered to the customer which he found to be wasteful in energy and resources. Once in the customers’ home the clothing takes up space and has a short lifetime before being disposed of. With the predicted future expansion of city living, apartment space will be extremely small requiring a major rethink in lifestyles.
What’s interesting about this clothing printer is that in addition to being able to print new designs, after you have worn the garment you feed it back into the machine and it cleans the thread material for reuse. So you never need a closet, or a washing machine, or dryer. You just print out your clothes as you need them. Genius.
Harris predicts that this will offer opportunities for the fashion designer of the future as they will be able to sell their designs in digital form along with a material cartridge for the consumer to print at home.
Although we don’t doubt that many future homes will have 3D printers and consumer goods will be printed from downloaded digital designs, we question whether proprietary printers will exist for each different product type. We’re thinking that homes will have a “general purpose” 3D printer that is capable of printing all sorts of products, rather than multiple printers which can only print one type of product.