It's the ideas which disrupt the status quo which, throughout history, go on to become the standard practice. At the core, it comes down to "building a better mousetrap." But the true test of the mousetrap is always how well it works to catch a mouse.
Tamar Giloh may have indeed caught the mouse.
Giloh and her team at Britain's Tamicare may well have invented a new technology capable of revolutionizing the way the textile industry does business.
Giloh and her husband developed an automated system to produce fabrics using 3D printing. It's taken them 10 years, but Giloh and Tamicare now say they have a functional system of hardware and software which sprays polymers and fibers to produce disposable panties at an attractive price point.
And it doesn't stop there.
Tamicare says their 3D printed fabric solution could be used to make bandages, sportswear and virtually any other product now made by traditional textile manufacturing processes.
The material the company uses to create the disposable panties is called "Cosyflex," and it has some appealing properties. It's very flexible and even biodegradable. Tamicare say their fully-automated printing system can crank out an undergarment in less than three-seconds by layering rubber-latex polymers and cotton fibers shot from a spray gun.
The system can also be adapted to use a wide variety of liquid polymers from natural latex, silicone, polyurethane and even teflon, and it works with standard textiles like cotton and polyamide as well. Various details such as perforations, embossed designs and decorations can also be created in a given product by using the process in conjunction with structured base plates.
"We set out with a need to solve something and create a product, and then we realized we had developed a totally different and innovative technology," Giloh said. "A panty created at this speed isn't something you see every day."
Based in Manchester, England, the historical parallels to the textile business of the industrial revolution are legion. At this stage, the company has a dozen employees and sells their machines to cosmetic and healthcare companies.
They don't come cheap at around $3 million each, but as one machine can create 10 million biodegradable panties in a calendar year, the possibilities are obvious. Sometime next year, the Tamicare 3D printed feminine-hygiene product is slated to hit store shelves at a pharmacy chain in Israel and they say they're also in talks with a major company to offer the product to consumers in the U.S. Market.
While there are still major hurdles to clear for the company regarding regulations applied to hygiene products, the manufacturing method used to create them is a radical step into the future.