Could your next fash­ion buy come from a 3D printer? By Cai Mei Khoo.

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How 3D print­ing is tak­ing the fash­ion in­dus­try by storm

French Leavers lace? So two thou­sand and late. The lat­est in lin­gerie is 3D print­ing. The tech­nol­ogy made head­lines last De­cem­ber at the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret fash­ion show when it was an­nounced that the snowflake out­fit Lind­say Elling­son wore was made by a 3D printer in a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween ar­chi­tect Bradley Rothen­berg, Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret, and Swarovski. Elling­son’s body was first 3D-scanned, and with her mea­sure­ments the de­sign team cre­ated a corset, wings, and hat of in­ter­lock­ing frac­tal snowflakes 3D-printed by Shape­ways, a 3D-print­ing mar­ket­place and ser­vice com­pany.

“What sur­prised us most was how thin we could go with the ma­te­rial, and how it per­forms dif­fer­ently when printed thin ver­sus thick,” Rothen­berg told Shape­ways. “The first corset pro­to­type we printed at 0.8mm, which came out like a fine lace. It barely held to­gether and the ma­chines had to be specif­i­cally cal­i­brated to print at such a thin size,” he shared. Rothen­berg’s de­sign was made of light­weight ny­lon, fully en­crusted with glit­ter­ing Swarovski crys­tals.

Al­though it may sound rev­o­lu­tion­ary, 3D print­ing has been around since the mid ’80s but was used for in­dus­trial pur­poses. With low­er­ing costs, 3D prin­ters are now avail­able to the masses, with a desk­top 3D printer such as the Mak­erBot Repli­ca­tor 2 set­ting you back some RM6,600. To print, the Mak­erBot uses PLA fil­a­ment, a re­new­able bio­plas­tic made from corn. Shape­ways of­fers dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als to suit your de­signs – from frosted plas­tic to steel, brass, and ster­ling sil­ver, which also al­lows you to make your own jew­ellery.

Elling­son’s Snow Queen out­fit wasn’t the first 3D look fash­ion has seen. It is some­thing con­cep­tual fash­ion de­signer Iris van Her­pen has been show­cas­ing since her Crys­tal­liza­tion show in 2010 at Am­s­ter­dam Fash­ion Week, where she cre­ated a 3D-printed top in col­lab­o­ra­tion with de­signer Daniel Widrig, rig, printed by MGX by Ma­te­ri­alise. In 2011, Time mag­a­zine named a 3D-printed nted dress of van Her­pen’s de­sign as one of the 50 Best In­ven­tions of 2011, and just last Oc­to­ber, she won n awards in both the Fash­ion sub­cat­e­gory and the over­all Golden Eye prize at the Dutch De­sign Awards 2013 for her Volt­age haute cou­ture col­lec­tion pre­sented in Paris. In Volt­age, she pre­sented a world ex­clu­sive – the first st 3D-printed flex­i­ble dress that at looked like fine black lace e but was cre­ated by lasers in a process called laser sin­ter­ing. “The 3D-printed dress re­veals a highly com­plex, para­met­ri­cally gen­er­ated, ge­o­met­ri­cal struc­ture,” says ar­chi­tect Ju­lia Ko­erner. “The ar­chi­tec­tural struc­ture aims to su­per­im­pose mul­ti­ple lay­ers of thin woven lines, which an­i­mate the body in an or­ganic way.”

Van Her­pen sees it as a source of in­spi­ra­tion for new ideas. “Fash­ion is much more than con­sumerism; it’s about new be­gin­nings and self-ex­pres­sion,” she says. “My work comes from ab­stract ideas, us­ing new tech­niques, not the rein­ven­tion of old ideas. 3D print­ing is fas­ci­nat­ing; it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore we see the cloth­ing we wear to­day pro­duced with this tech­nol­ogy.”

In the UK, Tami­care has al­ready started to pro­duce ladies’ briefs made by a 3D printer, with ab­sorbent, padded dis­pos­able un­der­wear ex­pected to hit shelves this year. The briefs are made of a ma­te­rial the com­pany calls Cosyflex, a non-woven fab­ric made pri­mar­ily of fully biodegrad­able ma­te­ri­als. Cre­ated by CEO Ta­mar Giloh, her hus­band, and their team, the goal was to ad­dress prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with heavy men­stru­a­tion. How­ever, var­i­ous types of liq­uid poly­mers and tex­tile fi­bres may be used to cre­ate a tai­lor­made fab­ric de­pend­ing on need, along with dif­fer­ent pat­terns, per­fo­ra­tions or em­boss­ing, al­low­ing for en­dle end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties. With 3D-print­ing, 3D-p the prod­uct is cre­ated c in­stantly with no need n for cut­ting, hence re­duc­ing red wastage. A pair of briefs takes just three se sec­onds to make, and it’ it’s been re­ported that a sup­plier for Vic­to­ria’s Secr Se­cret has al­ready vis­ited Tamic Tami­care’s of­fices. Such linger lin­gerie may be avail­able to us a lot sooner than we t think, and all we need to do is click ‘print’.

Lind­say Elling­son wear­ing a 3D-printed out­fit at the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret fash­ion show

Iris van Her­pen Haute Cou­ture

Iris van Her­pen Haute Cou­ture

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