Cotton Rapid Customisation Feasibility Study

Rapid customisation is a way of creating physical products directly from digital design files through computer-controlled manufacturing. Perhaps the most widely known approach to rapid customisation currently is 3D printing, where machines can build up a physical object layer by layer from a digital model. The cost to the consumer of 3D printers has been steadily decreasing and consumer models are now small enough to fit easily on a desktop. Market trends suggest that in the future these machines may be as inexpensive, readily available and as reliable as desktop ink-jet printers are today.

This technology promises to have far reaching impacts on many sectors of industry and everyday life. It could mean for example, that consumers could print out objects themselves at home rather than having to purchase them from a store. It is also likely to allow new forms of manufacturing including novel combinations of materials, which have not been possible or economically feasible to achieve previously.

One of the key challenges for research into rapid customisation is to broaden the range of different kinds of materials that can be used as a source of feedstock. The aim of the project is to assess the technical and economic feasibility of using cotton-derived materials as a feedstock in rapid customisation processes where cotton has a particular advantage due to its inherent qualities, such as high cellulose content, biodegradability and natural fibre qualities. Our objectives are to:

  1. Survey the range of available rapid customisation techniques and assess their suitability for cotton-derived feedstock
  2. Investigate the ways that cotton could be processed to provide an input into a rapid customisation process and assess their feasibility
  3. Provide design visions for potential end-user applications of cotton-based rapid customisation techniques with indicative market potential.

Funding / Grants

  • Cotton Research and Development Corp (2015 - 2016)

Team