3D printing is no new concept – in fact, it’s been around since as early as 1984 when printing with materials was first introduced. Much like ink jet printing, three-dimensional printers work by depositing layers of materials like plastic, and more recently, wood. Through this process, a physical object is created from a digital source. But what was once seen as a technology for manufacturing and medical fields, we’re now embracing in modern design.
Just recently we’ve started to see a shift in technology within the fashion industry, and the idea of wearable tech is gradually becoming more and more toyed with. We’ve seen it with Google Glass and Vodaphone’s new ‘Power Shorts’, and now we’re seeing it develop in within high fashion. Just this week Victoria’s Secret’s annual winter show featured 3D printed snowflake designs.
Manufacturing companies like Shapeways (who produced the first ever 3D printed dress, modelled by Dita Von Tees), and Materialise are working with innovative designers such as couturier Iris Van Herpen to produce 3D designs that shape the body, are flexible, and can even be washed multiple times like our typical everyday clothes. This new medium of design allows fast production times, reduces material waste (think of all the plastic we can recycle), and of course, brings a whole new aesthetic to the way we understand fashion.
At the moment, accessory and trainer companies are the ones immediately benefitting from this breakthrough. High profile footwear labels like Nike and Adidas are working on producing multiple prototypes of their trainers, and are doing so at breakneck speeds. This also means being able to cut down from 12 prototype technicians to just two.
Over the last couple of seasons, we’ve seen 3D Printed hats, jewellery and even shoes hit the runway. Malaysia recently held a fashion week solely dedicated to 3D printed design. A sign of things to come? I’m particularly interested in how we, as consumers can use this technology for ourselves. How long will it be before we’re browsing the web, and printing out our favourite finds manually from the comforts of our own home?
- 3D Printing in fashion is still at its development stage and materials are limited. At the moment plastics, and more recently, wood, are being used predominantly.
- As consumers it forces us to look at clothes in a more mechanical, precise way.
At the moment the industry appears to be going through a tech revolution. If we continue to push the boundaries of wearable tech, we can expect to even see 3D printing stores, and even specialist 3D clothing and accessory labels in the future.