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3D printers and the fashion industry's evolution

3D printers and the fashion industry's evolution

3D printers have become highly popular in creative industries. 3D-printed designs have begun to appear in the beauty industry, as well as in architecture and even modern furniture design.

3D printing is also making an impact on the world of high fashion. In a previous post, we explored the industry’s initial use of the technology. But how has 3D printing changed since it hit the fashion scene in 2010? We find out how technology is spurring fashion’s evolution below.

3D printed designs impress on the catwalk

High fashion has long been known for its creativity, with couture designers debuting their artistic designs on the runway each year. 3D printing has allowed fashion designers to become more elaborate than ever before.

Since 2010, this technology has promised ever bolder 3D printed designs. However, these advances have only been a partial success. The example of designer team threeASFOUR offers an insight into the limitations of 3D printing. In 2013, the team produced geometric 3D printed designs that drew praise for their robotic appearance. On the other hand, they were notoriously impractical for the models wearing them during the runway show. Bradley Rothenberg, a member of the design team, noted that one model was prohibited from sitting in her dress for fear that the delicate design might break.

Advances have meant that in 2016 the brand managed to craft a beautiful design that was as practical as it was striking. The Pangolin is a dress made up of thousands of dark interlocking scales, for an edgy, futuristic design. Unlike its predecessors, the dress allowed for ease of movement. Björk sported the design during her 2016 opening tour (where she also wore a custom mask design by designer Neri Oxman, and her team, Mediated Matter). The only downside of the Pangolin was that it took 500 hours to print.

High fashion designers embrace 3D printing technology

A number of other fashion designers have incorporated the technology into their more recent designs. 3D printing often allows for the use of more complex designs and materials, generating a unique alternative to other garments. Architect Francis Bitonti and fashion designer Michael Schmidt crafted a dress for burlesque performer Dita Von Teese. The dress was designed using  2,500 individual, inter-joined pieces painted in a jet-black coating and adorned with crystals.

Charne Esterhuizen, an Australian designer, is set to show off her 3D-printed dress design at the 2017 Vancouver Fashion Week. The dress is decorated using 150 individually printed 3D-printed butterflies.

Esterhuizen said:

“It is the first to be made to this scale nationally, because you have big brands that have done 3D printing, but this is a completely different and experimental way of printing. I used a modular system, so I multiplied the object of the butterfly, created into a fibre and connected them one by one until the dress was 175 centimetres long.”

Where next?

3D printing has already helped modern designers create new, other-worldly designs. What do fashionistas predict for the fashion industry and 3D printing in the future? Catch what the experts have to say in our follow up post next week.

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