Five Things to Consider on 3D Printing Fashion

Five items below are questions directed to me from Andresa Silva who is currently studying towards her master’s degree in fashion at the University of Beira Interior in Portugal.  I evaluated her questions from a perspective of a technology lover and a practicing architectural designer.

1.  What do you find most fascinating about 3D printing, and what is your perspective on the use of 3D printing in fashion in the future?

3D printing like any other CNC machine is magical because it connects digital ideas back into physical space. Design objects in digital space have no material identity, they have the potential to be anything. Perhaps 3D printing technology is the more successful methods to materialize these ideas into physical states. It is one of the more successful digital fab is rication technologies we have because it has a rapid fabrication time and have the ability to manifest a digital object in physical space with almost any material possible. 

2.  What do you consider to be the next step that 3D printing will take regarding fashion and what are the main benefits of 3D printing in fashion industry?

I can imagine a real time scan and customization per person, and extruding materials in 3 dimensions directly onto people, perhaps a 6-axis robot approach. Expanding materials and methods – Clothing can become not only an aesthetic thing but perhaps a way we can feed our body! 

3.  Which 3D printing technologies and materials you think are most appropriate for the production of clothing?

There is definitely a place for the ability of this technology in the e use of varying materials. The beauty of additive manufacturing is the ability to choose location, function and the type of material quality that best fit that. If a part of the clothing need to be flexible and resilient to motion, perhaps nylon(silicone based) filaments might be best for it. However if the part of clothing needs to be rigid, as a structure for the building, then the use of carbon fiber? Might be best. 

4.  Do you think it is possible to develop clothing in 3D printing that contains the same properties as traditionally produced clothing?If yes, how do you imagine this will be done?

I definitely believe that it is possible to produce similar qualities with 3D printed wearables and clothing produced with traditional methods and materials. I don’t believe an off-the-shelf machine is the solution towards this. Instead this might require some “maker approach” to work with existig machines, methods and materials and revise the machines to host materials and assembly processes more similar to the traditional methods. Perhaps a new kind of an extruder need to be made for depositing a new set of materials, or a 6-axis robotics approach is deployed to do “interlaced, woven, layered” fabric. 

5. What differences do you identify concerning the production of clothes, accessories,and shoes produced in 3D printing compared to production using the traditional method?

Environmentally conscious production methods, materials, and life cycle. 

Bacterial Cellulose Growth in a Jar – This was grown by me during Sci-Arc using Suzanne Lee’s recipe.

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