Tech In Action: 3D knitting hits retail

A handful of retailers (including Adidas) are experimenting with on-demand production at retail locations.

MinistryOfSupply

It’s drastically less high-tech than 3D printing, but fast-knitting robots have popped up at a few fashion retailers as a way for customers to get customized apparel.

The Boston-based Ministry of Supply can produce a customized knit blazer in approximately 90 mins (pictured above), while Adidas has created a pop-up in Berlin offering Merino wool products that can be custom fit (if you’re willing to strip down to your undies and get scanned by lasers).

Ministry of Supply's 3D knitting machine

Ministry of Supply’s 3D knitting machine

Both products retail for over $200, and Adidas reports selling about 10 of its sweaters on a good day. And as Quartz.com points out, this alters the formula retailers use to determine their profitability on a per-square-foot basis (one machine can, potentially, sell more sweaters from its footprint than could be displayed there in a day). The machines themselves cost approximately $200,000 USD, but broad adoption tends to breed competition and lower prices. Adidas, at least, is considering expanding the project.