As 3D printing or Rapid Prototyping continues to find innovative ways to improve and ease the tasks of society, it eventually found its way into the fashion industry. Clothing, shoes and all kinds of accessories have been 3D printed over the past few years. Being able to create unique designs for different people at lower costs and at a faster rate of time is unquestionably going to change this industry.
The printing of accessories is actually quite common in the fashion industry nowadays. Rapid Prototyping even has a guaranteed future in the fashion industry as dematerialization is a significant goal to achieve. The different ways in how fashion designers are using this technology is quite informative of how this technology will be used in the future of the fashion industry.
Iris Van Herpen is a strong and rather enthusiastic advocate of this technology. Her unique use of this technology is very visible in her “over the top” designs for which she is famous. Her designs look like they jumped out of her very mind and onto the runway. There are many other designers, similar to Iris Van Herpen, who have found incredibly creative clothing designs with the use of Rapid Prototyping.
Behnaz Farahi, for example, created the “Caress of the Gaze” which is an interactive 3D printed piece that can be worn. It can detect when other people are looking at it and change according to what it senses! Who would’ve thought this would be possible even a mere 5 years back! Maybe not proper for casual wear but it sure stands as an interesting piece! Or we could consider the Spider Dress which has mechanical arms that retract when people come near it. Truly amazing stuff, not only for the kids but adults too!
On the other hand we have designers such as Karl Lagerfield who believe this technology should be used in specific cases but not as the key element. In many Chanel outfits, for example, you can find 3D printed parts but they are hardly noticeable. The sewing tends to be done in the old fashioned way. These designers believe that you have to know specifically how to implement this technology and it can never replace the expertise of an expert.
The shoe industry has even gotten in on the action with Nike, New Balance and Adidas releasing prototypes. The soles on these prototypes were 3D printed. Many other instances of Rapid Prototyping have been spotted in the industry as well.
Issues to Deal With or Not?
While 3D printing is greatly influencing how things are done in the fashion industry there are still significant problems that need to be overcome, starting with the fact that if Rapid Prototyping hopes to be the future of the fashion industry then it should be eco-friendly. The sponge suit, a bikini made by Mihri Ozkan is a great example of an eco-friendly design. This bikini can absorb pollutants in the water while you swim and yet make sure these pollutants don’t harm your skin! Recycl3-D, a 3D clothing line that’s recyclable, is indicative of the future of the fashion industry.
3D printing should be user friendly as well. Even expert designers such as Iris Van Herpen need help when it comes to 3D printing. The convenient solution would be for fashion designers to create the 3D files and sell them. This way the customer will only have to print the design out.
The group known as Continuum has involved itself in such a business. They run a site from which people can download clothing design files for free and print them out. Of course copyright issues will be raised but this solution seems to work well and will most likely be very common in the future.
The material used in 3D printed clothing can also stand as an issue. Just try to put a 3D printed shirt into a washing machine and see the result. Rapid Prototyping tends to use plastic type materials even in the creation of clothes which results in clothing that isn’t wearable on a regular basis. This is obviously a massive issue for the fashion industry as fashion that isn’t worn isn’t really fashion.
However, some players have solutions to these issues that pop up. Electroloom and Tamicare seem to have the right idea. They are both working on patented 3D printed textile. These players will definitely affect whether or not 3D printed clothes will be viable for regular use in the future.
Price is probably the most common complaint on 3D printers. The devices themselves and the price of making made to measure outfits. Even if you make many the price isn’t reduced a great deal per outfit designed. As the technology develops, prices are dropping and will continue to do so on 3D printers just like with every other technology. This problem will more than likely solve itself in the future but until then it is an issue to be dealt with.
The amazing uses of 3D printing in the current position of the fashion industry makes us excited to see what the future holds for this partnership. Now we just need to find a dry cleaner that can handle these innovative items!
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