The possibilities for 3D printing are endless — from instruments and toys to robots and mechanical parts, there’s almost no limit to what a 3D printer can create.
And now, designers and fashion enthusiasts are jumping on the bandwagon. While fashion designers have been using 3D-printed materials since 2010, their range has been limited until recently.
“3D printed pieces are restricted to the materials that a machine can print with, and with this in mind, designers are often visually restricted in terms of what can be made,” said Faith Robinson, content curator for global 3D technology showcase 3D Printshow. “With the recent introduction of multi-material, multi-colour printing (at a more accessible price point), trends within 3D-printed fashion are moving away from the rigid, white 3D-printed nylon structures and towards pieces that look more ‘real.’
Some designers, like Australia-based XYZ Workshop, are even making their designs available for download, which means anyone with a 3D printer can customise and create their own clothing. With 3D printers becoming more prevalent and affordable, it’s truly the next frontier in fashion.
“Accompanied by 3D scanning technology, 3D printing can allow for the most incredible levels of personalisation in fashion,” Robinson said. “It’s a new understanding of accessible haute couture.”
Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen was one of the first to use 3D-printing techniques in fashion, starting in 2010 with her 'Crystallization Collection.' In January 2013, she debuted this intricate, lace-like dress that was created with a laser printing technique by Belgian company Materialise.
Van Herpen and Materialise collaborated again in March 2014, creating this 3D-printed dress that was coated in silicon for a glossy sheen.
In 2013, 3D-printing company Shapeways and architect Francis Bitonti debuted this amazing gown, modelled by burlesque star Dita Von Teese. The gown is made up of 17 pieces of flexible mesh with nearly 3,000 articulated joints and decorated with more than 12,000 Swarovski crystals.
Earlier this year, Francis Bitonti collaborated with design students to create his second 3D-printed dress, which he called the 'Bristle Dress.' It was made using clear, flexible PLA filaments, and the design has been made open-source, meaning that anyone with a MakerBot printer can download the plan and customise it themselves.
Australia-based XYZ Workshop created the InBloom Dress, which is made of 191 lace-like panels of flexible PLA filament. It took nearly 450 hours to print, and the design can be downloaded for free online. The InBloom Dress will be appearing in a documentary airing on the Discovery Channel later in 2014.
XYZ Workshop has branched out into accessories, too, creating these women's clutches that can be downloaded and printed at home. 'Being able to empower someone to make and fully customise their printable fashion is a compelling and personal way of self-expression through fashion,' Kae Woei Lim of XYZ Workshop told Business Insider.
They have also created this flexible watch, which can be printed in two separate parts -- the band and the face -- and super-glued together.
For a more high-fashion look, Gabriella Ligenza designed a collection of 3D-printed hats. 'Working with such a cutting edge technique as 3D printing has allowed me to create what was previously impossible with traditional millinery,' Ligenza told the magazine Dezeen.
Some designers, like Pringle of Scotland, have incorporated 3D-printed elements into already-existing designs. This top includes laser-sintered nylon parts that were woven into knit material.
But the 3D-printing trend has extended even beyond high-end fashion. In 2013, Victoria's Secret angel Lindsay Ellingson wore a pair of wings that were created by a Shapeways printer. The wings were printed with layers of nylon plastic and adorned with Swarovski crystals.
Lady Gaga has also been spotted in 3D-printed clothes, including this Parametric Sculpture Dress by Studio XO. The dress was printed with Materialise's Mammoth stereolithography machines, the largest 3D printers in the world.
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