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