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Innovative Clothes Production and Customization Method Developed by Design Researchers

From MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, design researcher Sasha McKinlay has created a breakthrough way to produce clothing. With the use of an active yarn she created, McKinlay’s 4D Knit Dress is manufactured on an industrial knitting machine in a generic size. A robotic arm equipped with a heat gun is supposed to selectively blast the clothing according to the wearer’s body parameters after their body has been scanned. At the point of sale, this might be completed.

The robot was developed by Danny Griffin, an architecture student. “When we apply heat, the fibers shorten, causing the textile to bunch up in a specific zone, effectively tightening the shape as if we’re tailoring the garment,” Griffin says.

This guarantees a suitable fit while also offering style flexibility: according to MIT News, “Where the active yarns are placed in the design allows for the dress to take on a variety of styles such as pintucks, pleats, an empire waist, or a cinched waist,” 

Moreover, the dress can be restyled with additional heat application in the future. “A dress can begin with one design — pintucks across the chest, for example — and be worn for months before having heat re-applied to alter its look. Subsequent applications of heat can tailor the dress further.”

In addition to the wearer, the maker and retailers stand to gain greatly from that as well. They could theoretically produce just one or two sizes, like Small and Large, and the robotic heat gun could fill in the rest. This would eliminate the need to make and stock a variety of sizes and styles. It might also generate the in-demand style of the moment.

That would make a huge contribution to sustainability all by itself. Any shop who had to get rid of styles and sizes that weren’t popular the previous season should only ask.

In partnership with the clothing line Ministry of Supply, the 4D Knit Dress was created.

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