Imagine a world where you finalize a dress's design, pattern, and style on your computer, you click to print, and a Printer just produces that dress out of nothing. That world is soon to be a reality!
The 3D printing technology is revolutionary. It is already making major headlines in the Aerospace, Medicine and Construction Industries. Now 3D printing is making inroads in the Fashion Industry as well.
How does 3D Printing actually work? What are its applications in the Fashion Industry? And can it really substitute the entire Garment Making process? Let's examine and find out!
HOW 3D PRINTING WORKS!
3D printing, also called additive-manufacturing, is a method of creating 3D solid parts from a digital document. It is done by depositing, joining and solidifying materials together, one layer at a time. By sealing materials layer by layer, an entire 3D object is produced.
The method of joining and solidifying materials may vary from printer to printer depending on various applications. There are multiple methods by which 3D printing can be done to produce fabrics.
Traditionally garments are produced by spinning and weaving fibre together to create fabrics. However, the 3D printer fundamentally cannot weave threads. For 3D-printing Fabrics, different source materials and solidifying processes are used.
The Chainmail Method
Chainmail is one of the elementary methods of 3D-printing fabrics. In the Chainmail method, small individual links join together to make a relatively rigid material.
The Chainmail process is done by using simple metal wires which are joined together to create a fabric. However, the fabric that the chainmail method produces has Comfort and Sustainability issues. The Chain mail fabric is hardly user-friendly.
Flexible Filament (TPU)
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a material highly used in 3D printing. TPU, also called 'the Flexible Filament' is used to create wearable objects because it quickly adapts its shape to body curves.
Adjusting the 3D printer's code to careful-modelling, Fabric-like sheets can be produced out the the flexible filament. This type of 3D fabric is affordable and easy to produce. However, this fabric also carries similar disadvantages of the chainmail fabric. It's not comfortable on the skin compared to a regular garment, and it carries sustainability issues.
The INFILL Method
The Infill method produces fabrics that are hollow while solid. The Infill method specially produces objects with extremely low density. However, these products are solidly strong as well.
The Infill code was first discovered to produce extremely thin slices of materials. This ability to produce thin slices was then modified to develop fabrics.
Knitwear is produced all around the world. However, 3D-knitwear is a new invention of recent years. 3D knitwear is additive manufacturing's closest version of traditional weaving-and-knitting.
In the 3D-knitwear technology, technically specific yarn is knitted via machinery, one layer at a time, to produce the fabric. Companies like New Industrial Order specialize in producing the source yarn required in 3D knitwear.
Japanese Fashion brands like Uniqlo are investing highly in 3D knitwear technology. 3d knitwear offers comfort and circularity of clothing, making it a major Sustainable alternative.
M.I.T's Soft Fabrics!
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the leading researcher in 3D-printable materials. in 2017, MIT researchers developed a 3D material from plant-based cellulose.
Cellulose, which is an organic polymer, is used to produce biomaterials like Lyocell. However, such biomaterials couldn't be used in 3D printing, until MIT's development. The scientific community largely agrees that MIT's printable cellulose fabric, is a major Sustainable alternative in 3D printing, for future generations.
NASA’s Scale Maille Project
If MIT is producing miracles, NASA can't be far behind. NASA, which is at the forefront of 3D printing technologies, has sought to develop fabrics that are protective and insulative, in the harsh environment of outer space.
NASA's Scale Maille project uses Chainmail technology to produce fabrics that can be used in tough environments. The fabric reflects light on one side and absorbs it on the other, providing a mechanism for thermal regulation. Possible applications for NASA's 3D fabrics are protective suits used in construction, firefighting, and undersea exploration.
EXAMPLES OF INNOVATIVE 3D PRINTED PIECES IN FASHION
The Proximity Dress:-
The Proximity Dress was designed by Dutch fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht, who is renowned for fusing cutting-edge technology with fashion to produce distinctive clothes. The COVID-19 health situation was taken into consideration when designing this garment.
In this dress, different sensors incorporated within it, recognize movement next to the wearer. The dress can also extend to form a barrier, if it determines that the person approaching the wearer, is too close.
Annie Foo’s 3D Printed Shoes:-
Annie Foo is a very popular designer, known for high-end shoes that utilize 3D printing technologies in the manufacturing process. It is seen that the combination of conventional footwear production with modern technologies is used to create this new design.
The specialty of Annie Foo's 3D printed shoes is that she uses 3D modeling software, which helps to design complex shapes to give the shoes an aesthetic look.
The Zero-Waste skirt:-
Julia Daviy has been involved with 3D-printed clothing since 2017. She was drawn in particular by the flexibility it offers in terms of material selection and construction.
Since then, she has released her own line of 3D-printed clothing, including the first "Zero Waste" 3D-printed customized skirt. She even demonstrated, through the use of recyclable fibres, that the creation of the skirt leads to less than 1% waste.
The VIP Tie:-
VIP TIE, an Italian company is well renowned for its 3D-printed ties. The company provides attractive as well as personalized accessories. The VIP TIE is crafted from high-end materials and cutting-edge technology.
The tie design process uses a variety of complementary techniques and materials, including carbon fibre, exotic leather, mother-of-pearl, embroidery, 3D printing, silver and gold. More than 80% of the materials used in the production of VIP TIE are completely eco-friendly.
ADVANTAGES OF 3D PRINTING- WHY IT WILL BRING A REVOLUTION?
Couture Clothing:- Couture or designer clothing is expensive because they are custom-made and somewhat difficult to obtain. However, 3D printing can change all of those equations and make custom-designed clothing a mass-market concept.
Freedom for Designers:- Imagine the creative freedom Fashion designers will gain if all they have to do is to create a design and simply print out the dress. The possibility for trial-and-error rises rapidly with 3D printing technology. Innovation in Fashion Design will become the core of the Fashion Industry, the more 3D printing is adopted.
Supply-Chain Efficiency:- When it comes to supply chain efficiency and turnaround times, 3D printing has the potential to alter large corporations. Within 24 hours, large number of apparel or other accessories can be printed. Because of this, the rate of style-change can accelerate over time, while the usefulness of distinct seasonal collections will diminish.
High level of Customization:- Fashion 3D printing has opened the doors to new opportunities when it comes to customer choices. Brands can begin to produce different pieces based on the consumer’s specific requirements or body parts.
The German-based sportswear company Adidas has been experimenting with this idea since 2015. They created a shoe that offers the best fit for any runner during sport using running-data from numerous runners. To this day, they continue to experiment with different repetitions and modifications of their 3D-printed shoe.
Finally, Sustainability:- 3D printing technology in the fashion world gained popularity for being delightfully sustainable. Designers and brands are starting to focus on using sustainable production techniques to develop their collections.
Brands are incorporating additive manufacturing techniques into every stage of the creative process, to become a sustainable force in the fashion industry. Fashion companies now design multiple patterns on a variety of 3D printers before producing only the quantity they require.
This enables them to reduce the number of resources they waste in garment making. Use of 3D printing in Fashion guarantees that the Fashion Industry's Sustainability ratings, improve significantly.