With the success of products like the Diva Cup, Moon Cup, and the Sea Sponge, the alternative menstrual product industry has enjoyed something of a boom over the last few years. Yet heavy period-sufferers whose cups runneth over might still be searching for an alternative.
Enter the world’s first 3-D-printed disposable panty.
The product, which is equipped with a built-in absorption pad, is one of many disposable garments created by Tamicare, a Manchester, U.K.-based company. Helmed by Israeli inventor and CEO Tamar Giloh, Tamicare has developed a revolutionary 3-D-printing technology that can produce disposable bandages, sportswear, and yes, feminine hygiene products, in under three seconds.
Giloh and her husband came up with the idea for the disposable panty more than a decade ago, as a way to prevent leakage for women who suffer from menorrhagia, or excessively heavy periods. The patent for the product cites its “ergonomic shape,” which allows the user to feel comfortable “while providing adequate protection from rearward leakage.”
Since coming up with the idea for the disposable panty, the company has raised $10 million toward developing its 3-D-printing hardware, which produces a patented fabric called Cosyflex. By spraying layers of polymers and natural cotton fibers, the 3-D-printing device creates the unique, elastic, non-woven fabric, and can produce up to 10 million units per year.
After revealing the technology at a conference last month, Tamicare says it’s received inquiries from more than 30 companies, including lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret. The absorbent disposable panty will also hit Israeli drugstore shelves next year.
It’s not hard to imagine the product facing resistance from mainstream consumers—some of whom might be averse to the idea of wearing what essentially amounts to a sexy, high-tech version of an adult diaper. But textile researcher Dr. Stephen Russell says Tamicare’s panty has “exciting potential,” not just for the future of textile production but for the feminine hygiene market at large.