3D printing may be the hottest buzzword in design, but it still is not adopted into the fashion industry as a go-to medium. Maybe the technology is a little intimidating. Perhaps brands are still struggling to find a way to make it mass production friendly. Perhaps they still see it as a the machine that just makes plastic toys.
How fashion designers are using 3D Printing now:The 3D Print Design Show demonstrated a range of products now on the market. Many of them applicable to current fashion needs. The dress above from Melinda Looi had crystal embedded plastic cells printed into a chain-mail like textile that was movable and wearable.
Jewelry was the first area of the fashion business that adopted 3D printed technology. NinjaFlex is a company that makes a flexible filament for a softer product. Remember jelly bracelets and jelly shoes? You can make much more intricate ones in custom designs like the necklace on the left.
Bridging old-school techniques and the new. Traditional wax casting of jewelry involved carving hand wax into the jewelry piece shape you needed before casting the precious metal. You could spend weeks on the wax model and have it destroyed in an instant. Well now, you could just 3D print the design in wax, adjust the style, design or shape and correct it in minutes.
Shoes have been the other category adopting 3D printing in innovative ways. You could print the entire shoe of course, but many designers are using this technology to partial elements of the shoe for the more fashion forward aspects of the design, while using more traditional materials like wood and leather. This is a great way for independent brands to create some very avant-garde concepts without the expense of high minimums at a regular footwear factory.
So are you ready to take on the next frontier of fashion? 3D Printing is coming up with new materials, new capabilities and becoming more affordable for designers every day. These designs represent what is currently on the market, What's coming down the pipeline is more spectacular still...
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