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France gets its first 3D knit factory with 3D-TEX

3D-TEX, an ‘industrial relocation’ project, aims to produce Made in France sweaters through 3D knit technology, bringing back local jobs.

4th May 2021

Knitting Industry
 |  St. Malo, France

Knitwear, Knitted Accessories

A French start-up company plans to reshore knitwear manufacturing and create ethically ‘Made in France’ products via the latest 3D knitting technology. Co-founders Gwendal Michel, Marc Sabardeil and Basile Ricquier, who have decades of knitwear manufacturing experience collectively, will launch 3D-TEX in June 2021 with the aim of creating a mutli million Euro turnover business that creates jobs and contributes to the local economy.

Based in the walled city of Saint-Malo in Brittany (Bretagne) in western France, 3D-TEX will produce 80,000 pieces of seam free knitwear per year with 10 Shima Seiki MACH2XS WHOLEGARMENT knitting machines, when fully operational. Within 5 years, the company plans to buy 30 WHOLEGARMENT machines, and produce around 300,000 sweaters and accessories each year, with a turnover of EUR30 million.

The 3D-TEX team are ready for a June 2021 launch. © 3D-TEX

“It is interesting to notice that the textile Industry has been among the first to outsource production to Far East countries 40 years back, followed then by the car industry, and later by the pharmaceutical industry. We have all noticed the very unfortunate consequences of these moves, and we do hope that the textile industry will be among the first to relocate its industry in our countries,” 3D-TEX co-founder Basile Ricquier told Knitting Industry.

“We do believe it makes sense, socially and on an environmental level, to produce locally for our local markets. 3D-TEX is willing to show that it is possible to relocate any Industry, with a very innovative technology that makes products financially attractive.”

The three Bretons, who will operate a state-of-the-art knitting factory in Saint-Malo, have also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help train staff. The company will start with about twenty employees, who must be trained, which is said to be a challenge, because many training courses have disappeared in the French textiles industry.

Virtuous production

3D-Tex has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Ulule platform, where funders can order a sweater or a hat and give a helping hand to the young enterprise. The orders will constitute the first production of the factory. “The production is virtuous. The machines create seamless sweaters, using a process that hardly generates any waste,” 3D-TEX said.

The machines create seamless sweaters, using a process that hardly generates any waste. © 3D-TEX

3D-TEX garments will also be shipped in reusable packaging developed by the young Norman company Hipli. In addition, 15% of the turnover of the Ulule campaign will be donated to Surfrider Europe, an organisation dedicated to protecting the oceans.

3D-TEX says it relies on simple but ‘full of sense’ concepts. “3D-TEX is also a virtuous industrial solution - by manufacturing in 3D, we save between 20 to 30% of raw materials because, unlike traditional manufacturing, we do not generate any material waste,” the company explains.

3D-TEX garments will also be shipped in reusable packaging developed by the young Norman company Hipli. © 3D-TEX

“Do less, but better because the best waste is that which we did not produce. We offer low minimum quantities of 200 pieces per colour. Thus, no unnecessary commitment for the brands, and less residual stocks at the end of the season.”

The 3D-TEX ethos involves manufacturing locally in France, to meet the demand of the French market, and sourcing materials as locally as possible - materials come from France or Europe, which has the effect of reducing the company’s carbon footprint. “Our electricity is green, 100% French and entirely from renewable energies,” the company adds.

The founders, who are not lacking in humour, say that if you contribute EUR20 or more to their crowd funder, you have the right to visit the factory, drink a coffee and taste a portion of ‘kouign amann’, a specialty Breton cake.

“After 18 months of reflection, dozens of sleepless nights, 1 made in France salon, 123 samples developed, hundreds of enriching encounters, 500 litres of coffee ... we are ready for the launch of 3D-TE,” the founders said.

“We found the perfect location in the heart of Saint-Malo to host our factory and it's now that it all starts. We need you to help us launch this common-sense project, and not that crazy.”

3D-TEX Ulule crowd funder campaign

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