Last year it was shoes. This year, full 3-D printed garments are hitting the runways, both in Paris and New York.
At Manhattan’s Ace Hotel, burlesque “muse and model” Dita Von Teese donned a specially printed nylon mesh dress for a private runway event on Monday night. Her Fibbonaci-inspired gown was designed in collaboration by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti and printed on a 3-D printer at Shapeways.
“The exciting thing about this for me, is what 3-D printing is going to do in every industry,” says Bitonti. “In fashion terms, it would be, you’re bringing your couture logic to something that could potentially be ready to wear.”
When Von Teese wears the dress, it conforms to her body, moving and flowing with her, kind of like a Chinese finger trap, says Bitonti.
“It’s that continuous variation — managing the complexity of the subtle adjustments in form to respond to curvature of the body, how things tighten or narrow, where we need more flexibility or less flexibility of the mesh, all that was able to be tuned to a really high level,” he says.
Because Bitonti and Schmidt live on opposite sides of the country, they had to communicate digitally.
“The entire dress was designed on an iPad, refined over Skype, rendered digitally by Francis and sent to Shapeways for printing, an entirely virtual endeavor,” says Schmidt.
Bitonti’s been involved in 3-D design for a while. Using Von Teese’s measurements, he built a 3-D model of the dress, adapting Schmidt’s original sketch to fit her body using Maya, the high-end design software used for commercial projects including architecture, product manufacturing, and animated movies. Then in Rhino, another design software that allows for precise surface manipulation, he detailed 2,633 independent rings, or links, that formed the body of the dress. The whole thing was laser sintered on an EOS P350 in 17 parts which were then manually assembled.
“This would have been incredibly expensive, if not impossible, to do by hand,” says Bitonti. “The level of craftsmanship it would require is being assumed by the machine.”
The runway event was paired with Saturday’s “bespoke jewelry bazaar,” also at the Ace Hotel, which showcased 3-D printed jewelry for the same reasons: designers including Schmidt and others showed necklaces and bracelets too intricate for traditional design methods.
Indeed, the fashion industry is one that still requires significant amounts of hands-on manufacturing — one of the reasons sweatshops persist, says Shapeways Designer Evangelist Duann Scott.
“There’s potential for 3-D printing to change the fashion market, if we can push the process a little faster and introduce new materials,” says Scott. “It’s sort of a way for us to move manufacturing into clothing. And then once we have the machines better suited to doing clothing, we can do custom fits. It’s very very possible to go into a change room, get a 3-D scan, and get a garment printed exactly to your fit.”
Thus, fashion is poised for a 3-D printing shakeup — once printer manufacturers begin to offer more flexible, clothing-friendly materials.
“Traditionally, all garments are either a weave or a stitch,” says Scott. “And with 3-D printing, we can … introduce something completely different. So we can grow designs rather than just using something that’s centuries-old technology. It’s a whole way to move forward in fashion and clothing and textiles.”
TAGS3d DesignerChinese Finger TrapCommercial ProjectsC