Have you ever heard of PerFlex? We hadn’t either until we met three graduates, Brigitte Kock, Bart Pruijmboom and Niek van Sleeuwen, from the Eindhoven University of Technology. The research-driven designers have, through exploration of the boundaries of generative design, found a way of utilising the possibilities of 3D printing and generative design to create unique products. Their smart and innovative solution resulted in their joint final Bachelor project being granted the Design United Funds which enabled them to build two Prusa i3 3D-printers.
So what is PerFlex? Building on the initial research work done by T. Nachtigall et al. in the field of Ultra Personalised Product Service Systems at the Eindhoven University of Technology, PerFlex expands whats on offer when it comes to 3D printed wearable products limiting options for consumers. According to the team, Perflex tries to find innovative solutions to pressing problems in the fashion and wearable industry through material research and rethinking production processes. The removal of the “one size fits most” thought process, allows designers to instead make “unique size fits you”. “On our website, you can combine a parametric pattern made by designers with your body data to get a personalised 3D printed product,” said Brigitte Kock. Adding,“Our unique generative design algorithms change every design to fit the unique body shape of every individual customer.”
One of the advantages of 3D printing is that during the creation process there is no excess waste, only using one material yet having multiple material properties by printing different structures, so-called metamaterials. “We print flexible products with the use of Recreus FilaFlex, a TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) filament. The advantage of this filament is having the cold-bedded process, which reduces energy waste on heating the printing bed”, shared Kock.
“[PerFlex] opens up more possibilities than the current output generating approach, like giving consumers uniquely tailored products, without having to pay the additional costs for handcrafted adjustments.”
Using the two Prusa i3 3D-printers they built, the graduates were able to show the broadness of inputs and outputs, by showcasing PerFlex through the shoes and bras that they have produced. We were impressed with the bra, which tackles the challenge for breathable and skin-friendly material. This showed us how their approach opens up more possibilities than the current output generating approach, like giving consumers uniquely tailored products, without having to pay the additional costs for handcrafted adjustments. Focusing on the influence of the individual consumer in the production process the PerFlex system combines the parametric designs from designers, with the data of customer’s body measured.
Under the watchful eye of Troy Nachtiga, Marina Toeters, Loe Feijs, Annika Hupfeld and Stephan Wensveen, the trio are looking to not only go from the development stage to market but the team is also hoping to engage with shoe and lingerie designers. So far, they have showcased their innovation at the Graduation Show Eindhoven University of Technology, Mind the Step at Dutch Design Week, GadgetLab Bright Day and more recently Fashion Pavilion Material Xperience.