3D Printing Walks the Runway in High End Fashion

Rethinking Design, Revolutionizing Fashion

New York Fashion Week

A 3D printing product made its way on the runway of the last New York Fashion Week this year. A new technique developed by Stratasys and fashion designers threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch saw 3D printing directly on fabric. This enabled a new spectrum of applications in the high-end fashion segment. Actually, fashion has been using 3D printed details but creating them separately and attaching them later on the fabric. At the NYFW event, the 3D printing giant printed directly on the textile using a special polyjet 3D printer.

The collection featured the beauty and color morphology of butterflies. The effect was a skin-like illusion of switching shades and depth to portray the insect’s inherent camouflage, diverse colors and luminosity. Spherical and fish scale-sized cells made of photopolymers were 3D printed directly onto polyester fabric. The dress consists of 27 parts with thousands of cells projecting clear lens with strips of colour contained inside. The color of the dress shifts with each slight movement. The whole 3D printing procedure was about 17 hours.

The special 3D printer, the J750, can produce more than 500,000 combinations of colours, textures, gradients and transparencies. With this wide range of combinations, the cost and the time required to make a unique dress is much reduced. Also, the supply chain becomes simpler which is a huge benefit for some companies that wish to make unique collections. Fashion designers can have unlimited freedom in designs and can even involve their clients in the design process. For the business itself benefits can be derived from a single 3D printer which can replace many other machines, from 2D printing to embroidery, thermoforming, foiling and ultrasound.

Is the dress comfortable to wear? That was a tricky problem at first, but they made it in such a way that the lithe, soft fabric touches the skin as the 3D printed design was on the outer fabric. This was the result of months of collaboration, the only way to realize the vision of the designer.

The end result here is to merge fashion and 3D printing goals, to change the way people think about design and to redefine what’s possible. The collaboration is intending to pioneer new designs, revolutionize manufacturing methods, and inspire designers to create without limits.

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