3D printed clothes! Charles Stross's blog continues to be awesome

Charles Stross's new blog post, on the future of 3D printing in textiles, is awesome.


So here's my picture of the chain store of the future. You go in, go to the scanning booth, and do the airport-equivalent thing in a variety of positions—stretch and bend as well as hands-up. You then look at the styles on display on the shop floor, pick out what you like, and see it as it will appear on your own body on an avatar on a computer screen. You buy it, and a machine in the back of the store (or an out-of-town lights out 24x7 robotic garment factory) begins to print it. Some time later—maybe minutes, maybe hours or a day or two—the outfit you ordered comes to you. And it fits perfectly, every time. Some items are probably still off-the-shelf (socks, hosiery, maybe even those cheap tee shirts), but anything major is printed, unless you can afford to go to the really high end and pay a human being to make it for you out of natural fibres. Oh, and the printed stuff doesn't have seams in places that chafe or bind.

Now, here's the down-side.

The fabrics on offer to start with will be fugly. Maybe not as bad as the bri-nylon shirts and terylene and other crappy synthetics of yesteryear, but it's still going to be fairly obvious (at first) what you're wearing. [...]

He's building off technology that actually exists now, and some of the great points include the end (or at least significant reduction) of clothing sweatshops and the existence of hyper-fast fashion changing cycles, which could be a lot of fun to watch.

This article is a great example of one of the many ways that the horrific problems created by industrialization and technology, as well as global capitalism, can theoretically be mitigated or solved -- without giving up the benefits they confer -- by sufficient application of more technology.