Haute couture that was once constructed on a sewing machine in an atelier, now presents the possibility of being made at the press of a button from the very comfort of your own home. Technology has changed the fabric of fashion and 3D printing has only just begun to pave the way for a DIY revolution.
3D printers operate much like a regular printer but instead of using ink, they use a mechanism called additive manufacturing where layer upon layer of material is built up to make an object. The first step is to create a virtual blueprint of what you’d like to print through the medium of various CAD modelling softwares. The printer then reads the blueprint and lays down successive layers of material that stick to each other and eventually builds a tangible model.
The birth of the 3D printer dates back to the early ’80s when its inventor Charles W. Hull set out on a humble mission to improve the tedious process of prototyping. Automobile industries were some the first manufacturing sectors to enjoy the benefits of 3D printing, little did we know that the fashion industry would soon catch on.
Weaving It’s Way Into Fashion
What started out as a rare and expensive concept – two qualities that fit right into the fashion industry’s DNA, are now rapidly going mainstream.
Jewellery and accessory designers, along with athletic shoe makers have long been using this technology to prototype new designs.
One of the first to make her foray into 3D technology was Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen, an artist who is widely known to showcase otherworldly designs has been using materials like silicon, resin and polyamide to create futuristic 3D haute couture.
An argument arises whether the use of 3D technology is only limited to creating architectural couture marvels and not wearable garments. However, as material sciences evolve, the current use of memory foam and nylon could be eradicated by those that have the potential feel of cotton and silk very soon.
A Sustainable Future
By it’s very the nature, additive manufacturing is the greenest form of production – by introducing one layer at a time and using only the necessary amount of material needed. There are no leftovers with a 3D printed object, what you envision is what you get, whereas, with traditional tailoring methods, fabric wastage is evident. Additionally, 3D printing allows much room to work out the trials and errors digitally (given the sound knowledge of softwares) before pushing the button on the final product.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are in the process of building a 3D printer that could produce jewellery made from shrimp chitin – imagine a biodegradable item that could be worn for a few months and then consciously get tossed into the ocean where it would then dissolve in water.
The Silver Lining
3D printing and artificial intelligence are among the many technological advances that are contributing to the onset of a digital and technological revolution. This change is set to bring about a range of high-tech textiles, sustainable solutions and digital customisation. A designer can take someone’s measurements or better yet, scan them and create a design for consumer. In the near future, you could have anything, pair of sunglasses, to shoes or even a fancy ensemble that’s completely fitted to your exact symmetry. Designers will soon be able to act as material scientists by cultivating new filaments or adding new material to make rigid plastics flexible – they will soon be able to weave on a handloom of the future.