Globally, the fashion industry is now estimated to account for around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of wastewater, making the pursuit of greener production methods more pertinent than ever before. Now there is an increasing emergence of technologically advanced, highly automated micro-factories.
Along with reducing unnecessary waste through on-demand production, micro-factories have a smaller ecological footprint than traditional garment production and require no water use during the production process. Where traditionally, apparel manufacturing has centered on a production chain model of sourcing materials and producing garments in bulk, micro-factories are now enabling on-demand, on-location production. This means greater flexibility and customization.
The micro-factory setup brings production in-house and on-demand, minimizing the cost of not only storing stock, but also of shipping it and responsibly disposing of unsold items. Where recent geopolitical events have highlighted the fragility of global supply chains, micro-factories offer a unique independence from these systems.
Moreover, there are the environmental considerations. Demonstrated on a small scale when the manufacturer of inkjet digital printers Mimaki Europe B.V., Amsterdam/Netherlands, teamed up with fashion designer Carolina Guzman to bring her designs to life in real time at the FESPA trade show, the environmental benefits inherent to micro-factory production will have an even greater impact, with the potential to effect meaningful environmental change as adoption increases in the years to come.