While 3D printing is nothing new, it was invented in 1984 by Charles ‘Chuck’ Hull, its influence on the fashion industry is.
3D printers are becoming more and more mainstream and available for personal use. the past couple of years or so, 3-D printing has become one of those things that seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue–every day a new article comes out about some crazy new thing you can print and now it’s starting to become relevant in conversations about fashion. Dita von Teese made headlines when she wore the world’s first fully-articulated 3-D printed gown, designed by designer Michael Schmidt and architect Francis Bitonti, at a fashion event back in March. Francis Bitonti and Michael Schmidt collaborated with Shapeways to produce a 3D-printed gown.The results were beautiful. Comprising of 3,000 articulated joints and dotted with 12,000 Swarovski crystals, Dita’s gown fitted her like a glove. It was art. It isn’t wearable, but it suggests that 3D printing has the finesse necessary to break into an industry known for its attention to quality craft.
In 2011 TIME Magazine named Iris van Herpen’s 3D printed dress one of the 50 Best Inventions of the year 2011 . Iris van Herpen is part of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and known for pushing the boundaries of materials and design within the fashion industry.
Iris van Herpen spoke about how 3D printing could possibly fill up the gap between Haute Couture, which is costume made and perfectly tailored for one single person, and the mass produced and limited sizing within Ready-to-Wear. Everybody could have their owns body scanned and just order clothes that fit perfectly.” 3D scanners and printers could revolutionise the way we order out clothes in the future.
Not only would this revolutionise fashion for the consumer but also for the manufacturer. At the moment production cost are based on the amount of items a designer produces, but with 3D printing this will no longer be the case in the future. The manufacturer cost are zero until a customer orders a garment. Which also leaves room for customisation, for instance in sizing, colour and materials.
Traditional embroidery techniques, would require at least three weeks of work and a dedicated team in order to realize an item such as the skirt. [With 3D printing] you don’t need any mold, your pattern is directly made layer after layer following the 3D file thanks to selective laser sintering or SLS. Of course there are design constraints, but you can substantiate what you want very quickly and without the costly stage of sampling. The weight of the prints, for the same aesthetic result, are way less heavy than the embroideries.
Although 3D printing materials have evolved from simple plastics to a wide range of materials like nylons, wood, salt, cement and even printing food. Printing silks, cottons and other natural fibers would be the next step in 3d printing for the fashion industry.
At IT’s Media Lab’ professor Neri Oxman already has started researching the construction of silk by researching the way silkworm build their cocoons. Most 3D printers create the same simple structure layer upon layer, but silkworm make their cocoons softer inside and stronger outside by using different patterns and amounts of silk fiber. Neri Oxman from MIT’s Mediated Matter research group explains that a silkworm “varies the properties of silk according to function and can be considered the biological equivalent of a mobile 3D multi-material printer.”
THE ADRENALINE DRESS SPREADS ITS WINGS TO PROTECT YOU
The Adrenaline Dress is composed of 3D printed panels and senses when adrenaline levels get high and mimics the fight-or-flight mode, extending the wearer’s sensory system to form an imposing shape.
While established fashion brands are a tad slow in beginning to experiment with, the technology itself is growing rapidly. As a business, it’s growing rapidly as well and is already available online.
The implications of 3-D printing on the fashion industry cannot be understated. It has the potential to do great things: create shorter lead times for designers, offer the ability to produce things in smaller quantities, and create easy personalization. On the flip side, 3-D printing could render many jobs in the manufacturing industry obsolete, as well as present some tricky legal issues surrounding copyright.
The above amazing and intricate work proves that Fashion and 3D Printing make a deadly duo. However at this point, It is still somehow made for editorial photo-shoots and runways, and not still really adapted for real life.