Finally, a use for that industrial knitting machine you bought at a garage sale! Carnegie Mellon researchers have created a method that generates knitting patterns for arbitrary 3D shapes, opening up the possibility of “knitting on demand.” Think about 3D printing, but softer.
The idea is actually pretty compelling to those of us who are picky about our knits. How many times have we picked up a knitted hat, glove or scarf only to find it too long, too short, too tight, too loose, etc.
If you fed your sartorial requirements (a 3D mesh) into this system from James McCann and students at CMU’s Textile Lab, it could quickly spit out a pattern that a knitting machine could easily follow but is perfectly suited to. your needs.
This needs to be done with care – machines are obviously not the same as human knitters, and an improperly configured pattern can cause the yarn to break or the machine to jam. But it’s much better than having to build this model purl by purl.
With a little more work, “knitting machines could become as easy to use as 3D printers,” McCann said in a press release from CMU.
Of course, you are unlikely to have one of your own. But manufacturing spaces and designer workshops (I believe that’s the term) will be more likely to do that if it’s that easy to create new, perfect-sized clothes with them.
McCann and his team will present their research at SIGGRAPH this summer.