You’ve probably heard of 3D printing in automotive or medical industries. How about high fashion 3D printing? Albeit novel, the concept is not all that new. 3D printing has made appearances in various major fashion events, including the New York Met Gala. Recently, 3D printed dresses made an appearance at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) 2019.
Using the Stratasys J750 3D printer, polymers were added straight onto pieces in the ‘Chro-Morpho’ collection. The dresses were showcased by models at threeASFOUR’s fall/winter runway show. Stratasys believes the technique represents the way forward for 3D printing in the fashion industry.
“We are always looking to revolutionize manufacturing methods, pioneer new design options, and inspire designers and students to create without boundaries,” said Naomi Kaempfer, Stratasys Art, Design and Fashion Director.
Although increasingly adopted in other sectors of the fashion industry such as footwear and jewelry, 3D printing garments remain uncommon. This is due to the fact that clothing requires flexibility, which still proves challenging as 3D printing is usually for printing rigid objects. Furthermore, this increases the price point for 3D printing garments. As a result, 3D printed clothing is not localized and is pretty much only reserved for the runway.
Despite challenges, this is not the first time Stratasys has ventured into 3D printing on the runway.
Previously, Stratasys has produced the Harmonograph dress that circles around the body in three spirals. The dress follows the geometry of the Fibonacci sequence and optically portrays the effect of a harmonograph. The dress was 3D printed by the Objet500 Connex3. Its entire design from its initial conception was intended to maximize the potentials inherent to this technology. The interwoven nature of the geometry could not be produced in a traditional manner. Therefore, it was critical to the designers that the design should evoke a language unique to 3D printing.
Another notable venture into 3D printing high fashion by Stratasys has to be the Pangolin dress. The dress is derived from a signature ThreeASFOUR design. It comprises of 14 pattern pieces. In this new 3D printed version, an overall skin is created by mixing a variety of interlocking weaves and biomimicry of natural animal textures. The Objet500 Connex3 3D Printer has precision and ability to vary material properties such as rigidity and color gradation. This provides the designers with the geometric control to create nuanced, deliberately placed transformations in the membrane’s porosity and flexibility. Alternating states of transparency and privacy were also achievable while accommodating the movement demands of the human body.
Designers can now enjoy more design freedom as complex geometries are now possible through 3D printing. We are hopeful that in the near future, the price point for fashion 3D printing will be significantly lowered, making it accessible for everyday wearing.