It did not take long for many to realise that creating a 3D printed wearable garment is not going to be cheap. According to Jessica Rosenkrantz, who runs a design and technology studio in Boston called Nervous System, one garment could cost upward of $3,000, which leaves us to wonder, although expectations are running high that these shortcomings are about to change, are we really getting close to integrating this type of technology into normal everyday clothes?
For many who do not know, the technology for 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has existed in some form since the 1980’s. Since then 3D printing designers have been trying to make a significant step towards making 3D printed clothing practical. Designers are aware that they need to create clothes that we can actually wear, instead of the see-through innovation that we have been exposed to so far. They also need to [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”null” suffix=”null”] give consumers access to the kind of education that allows them to understand the 3Dprinting process.[/inlinetweet] For those who still find the whole process quite foreign, allow me to share with you the basics.
It all first starts with a body scan of the woman who will wear the garment, before choosing the hemline and silhouette. Filling it in with the base triangle pattern, you must take note that the smaller and denser the pattern, the more fitted the dress will be. If you want more detail to your outfit you can always add more before sending all that information to the 3-D printer. Do bear in mind that most garments that come out of the printer are printed as individual components. They will need to be assembled like any other piece of clothing and that most simple products that are created using 3D printing will take a long time, usually hours and sometimes days to end up wearable.
Other advances being made to 3D printing include being able to combine different families of materials, such as metals and plastics, in a single print cycle, since most printers at the moment work with only one type of material, whether that be plastic, metal, ceramic, wood, or a biological material. Although a bit of a disadvantage, this slight setback has not stopped designers like Danit Peleg, Iris van Herpen and Francis Bitoni setting tongues wagging with their stylish creations. Other advances that are taking place are being made by Nervous System who have come up with a software called Kinematics that allows you to bypass the labour by creating your garment as a single piece. On this progress, Rozenkrantz shared “Our project has always been more about examining how 3D printing or other digital manufacturing technologies could really shake up the way we make clothes.” Sounds like they are taking a step in the right direction when it comes to the average person being able to design their own ensemble.
As 3D printing makes significant steps towards practical clothing, I think we should take time to acknowledge that 3D printing has developed beyond being just a ‘buzz word’. It successfully nudged the fashion industry into taking a different approach to how they produce their garments. We are definitely ‘team 3D printing’, because although the costs are ridiculously high and it takes forever to print one dress, it does promise a smaller carbon footprint, no production waste, recycled materials can be used and you can extend the life of existing products.
Lastly, I think that patience is key when it comes to managing expectations of what 3D printing can achieve. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”null”]Technology is developed in stages, and like a fine wine it will get better with age.[/inlinetweet] With the merge of fashion and technology still in its infancy, we might not be any closer to developing an affordable outfit using 3D printing but I do believe that as long as we continue to explore and experiment we will get there someday.