While the Maker community has been using Atmel powered 3D printers like RepRap for some time now, the 3D printing industry has been primarily focused on producing plastic or metal objects. However, a new open-source digital fabrication tool has recently emerged that will knit your next sweater in under an hour.
A small team of Barcelona-based Makers led by Gerard Rubio hopes to shake up the status quo with their Arduino Leonardo-powered (ATmega32U4) OpenKnit, an open source “printer” that automatically knits thread to create clothing based on digital templates.
The prototype platform — which costs approximately $750 to build — is currently capable of controlling three needles simultaneously.
On the software side, Mar Canet and Varvara Guljajeva have coded a companion program dubbed Knitic that can be used to design clothes. The duo reportedly used their experience from hacking old electronic knitting machines to create a user-friendly program for OpenKnit. The team has also put together “Do-Knit-Yourself,” which can probably best be described as a virtual wardrobe (think Thingiverse) where individuals and companies can share their designs.
Rubio, whose projects like “The Wearable Fashion Orchestra” we have featured previously on Bits & Pieces, says the design was inspired by the highly-popular RepRap printer. In addition, the Maker has shared a step-by-step breakdown of how the loom works in the video below.
According to Dezeen, which interviewed Rubio recently, human intervention is still necessary to place the weights which keep the clothes stable while they are being knitted. In the future, Rubio hopes to make the machine fully automated, and has already made a portable reiteration of the device co-developed with Maker Cees Jan Stam. Dubbed “Wally 120,” the Atmel based project can produce a Where’s Waldo? inspired beanie cap.