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3D Printing: The Face of Future Fashion?
Posted by 3DP4E
FASHION
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By Fira Rietveld | TedxAmsterdam

While 3D printing is nothing new, it was invented in 1984 by Charles ‘Chuck’ Hull, its influence on the fashion industry is.

3D printers are becoming more and more mainstream and available for personal use. And while 3D Printing will most likely influence fashion through homemade gadgets-like-items that will pop up in the streets and on streetstyle-blogs, the real revolutionary stuff is happening in Haute Couture.

Back in 2011 TIME Magazine named Iris van Herpen’s 3D printed dress one of the 50 Best Inventions of the year 2011 . Iris van Herpen is part of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Coutureand known for pushing the boundaries of materials and design within the fashion industry. Last January she presented two new innovative 3D printed textiles during her ‘Voltage’ presentation during the Haute Couture Paris Fashion week.

Together with Materialise and architect Julia Koerner, Iris van Herpen developed a black lacey dress that looks like a web woven over the body. From a distance the material looks like delicate textile fibers carefully intertwined and handmade. But this is in fact a 3D printed dress made from lasersintered plastic. (Watch the video below to see how it is made) Van Herpen developed this innovative new textile, called TPU 92A-1 and it is being billed as the first printable material that is flexible, durable enough to be worn – and to be put in the washing machine. This is a massive step forward in terms of usage and has great potential for the fashion industry.

Another part of Iris van Herpen’s collection was a similarly novelty fabric. Together with Stratasysand MIT’s professor Neri Oxman, van Herpen printed a cape and skirt that looks like it was overgrown by organical mussel-like shapes. This material is build up out of two totally different materials; one soft, the other hard. That was printed together. This is a first in 3d printing, combining materials in a single print. This would means that there are more possibilities in specifying on flexibility within printing a garment. ”We could say, ‘I want the arm really flexible, but then the middle not so flexible and the end flexible again’” van Herpen explains.

Launching her first Ready-to-Wear line last season Iris van Herpen is also excited about how 3D printing could possibly fill up the gap between Haute Couture, which is costume made and perfectly tailored for one single person, and the mass produced and limited sizing within Ready-to-Wear. Van Herpen could image scanning bodies and making costum-made garments for RTW like the Haute Couture items “people have been wearing the wrong sizes of clothes for far to long. Everybody could have their owns body scanned and just order clothes that fit perfectly.” she explains in an interiew with Dezeen Magazine. If this would become reality 3D scanners and printers could revolutionise the way we order out clothes in the future.Not only would this revolutionise fashion for the consumer but also for the manufacturer. At the moment production cost are based on the amount of items a designer produces, but with 3D printing this will no longer be the case in the future. The manufacturer cost are zero until a costumer orders a garment. Which also leaves room for customisation, for instance in sizing, colour and materials. Maybe in the future instead of saying a garment was custom-made we’ll say it was costum-printed.

Although 3D printing materials have evolved from simple plastics to a wide range of materials like nylons, wood, salt, cement and even printing food. The true future of 3D printing lies in Bio Printing. The medical field has a lot of progress in this field, for instance the first human blood vessels and organs have already been printed. These new developments within the medical field might also be applied onto the fashion industry. If it is possible to print human cells, printing silks, cottons and other natural fibers would be the next step in 3d printing for the fashion industry.

At IT’s Media Lab’ professor Neri Oxman already started researching the construction of silk by researching the way silkworm build their cocoons. Most 3D printers create the same simple structure layer upon layer, but silkworm make their cocoons softer inside and stronger outside by using different patterns and amounts of silk fiber. Neri Oxman from MIT’s Mediated Matter research group explains that a silkworm “varies the properties of silk according to function and can be considered the biological equivalent of a mobile 3D multi-material printer.”

Last monday Iris van Herpen presented her new show during the Haute Couture Paris Fashion week. I am personally very excited to see what innovative materials, techniques and collaborations she has come up with for her new collection. Read the full interview with Iris van Herpen on 3D Printing onDezeen.com

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