Where to Get Futuristic Materials for Arts, Crafts and Design
Every once in awhile I get a brilliant idea of something futuristic that I would like to create. For example, I crochet and sometimes I think about crocheting futuristic clothing using scent technology. I never take these ideas anywhere. I’m not a designer and I don’t work in the tech industry and mostly I wouldn’t know where to begin with crafting such a project. But I recently discovered a website that at least makes it possible to think about doing crazy projects like this. I know I’m not the only creative person out there who would love to know where to source futuristic materials from so I wanted to share the website with others. It’s called Inventables.
What is Inventables?
Inventables is a website where vendors can list materials that are for sale. Many of these are cutting edge “of the future” materials. They are materials that would be difficult for the average person to find in other places. In fact, some of the materials listed on the site aren’t even available yet although you can ask to be notified when they do become available. The company is based in Chicago. Their mission statement as laid out on their website is:
“We believe that it is currently too difficult for designers, artists, and inventors to source materials. To solve this problem, we are building an online store that will streamline the process of innovation and inspire everyone—regardless of profession—to explore what’s possible.”
Examples of Inventables Items
I am not sure if I’m explaining what Inventables offers very well so just to be sure I wanted to list some of the items available on the site that seem most interesting to me personally. They include:
o Temperature Sensitive Color Change Fabric. This is modern fabric that actually changes colors in response to temperature. For example, the fabric is green but when it is exposed to heat it turns blue. This would be a cool product to use in fashion design even if all that you are making is something new for yourself. For example, a homemade scarf that turns color as you warm up would be a neat idea that this material could be used for! It is currently in use by Puma for shoes and by Visual Reference Studio for funky furniture so it has a diverse range of applications.
o Flexible Metal Brick. This is a material that can be laid flat and when it is it looks, feels and functions like a solid block of metal. However, it is actually a flexible material that can be bent forwards and backwards. It is currently not yet available for sale on the site but is being used by private companies to build snowboards and architectural wall panels. This would be something cool to get your hands on for a home design project!
o Rubber Glass. The idea behind this futuristic product is to have something that looks like glass even when it breaks and yet doesn’t have the dangers of broken glass. I’m not sure exactly what the purpose of this material is (although the site suggests things like glass prototype building and unique packaging material). But that’s what is so cool about the Inventables website; you can find really unique odd materials and get creative using them.
o Soft-Feeling Conductive Textiles. This is a really soft fabric that has the ability to conduct electricity. It is used in the market to make things like pressure sensors and static control clothing. It seems like it would be a lot of fun to play around with especially if you enjoy fashion design.
Inventables Item Categories
If these types of materials sound like they might interest you then you may want to know more about the general categories of materials that this site sells. The site divides their offerings into the following categories:
o Coatings. This category is further divided into conductive, decorative, hydrophobic, paint and thermal coatings. For example, the paint category includes whiteboard paint and heat reactive paint whereas the conductive category has the aforementioned conductive textiles.
o Electrical. The items in this category are conveniently organized into electrical hardware for audio, display, illumination, power, sensors and switches. For example, there is sound recording paper and a talking prescription bottle in the audio category whereas the switch category includes a skin conduction switch and a magnetic switch.
o Fasteners. This category is broken down into adhesive, magnetic, nails, tapes, threaded and zippers. For example, there are waterproof zippers and quick burst zippers in the last category.
o Ingredients. This category is subdivided into flavors, fragrance, functional, inks and soaps. It is a really fun category to browse through. The flavors section includes flavor changing additives, powdered beer flavor and concentrated cheese flavor. In the soaps are such things as emollient oil and foaming hand soap.
o Properties. This category allows you to find items based on the unique properties of the item. Those properties include absorbent, biodegradable, crushable, dampening, elastic, heating, insulating, liquid, magnetic and shielding. I think the most fun category is the magnetic category which includes magnetic conductive ink, magnetic fluid, magnet-attracting paint and more.
o Raw Materials. The items in this section are organized into ceramic, film, foam, gel, glass, metal, paper, plastic, rubber, textiles, and wood. My favorite category is the textiles category which has everything from metal coated textiles to spill-resistant fabric.
Notably there is some crossover among the products in each category. For example, the magnetic switch can be found in the switch category under the electrical section as well as in the magnetic category in the properties section. This gives you more of a chance of finding what you’re looking for as you browse through this unique website.
What do you think of the Inventables website? Would you use it?
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