Creating high fashion garments using 3D printers is a dream many creators have pursued in recent years — resulting in what is, for the most part, cobbled patchworks of 3D plastic that rank low in terms of actual wearability.
Last week we told you about a new kind of 3D-printed clothing, the Kinematic dress, that offers hope for a range of more practical 3D-printed garments.
We spoke with the Massachusetts-based team to find out how they came up with a way to fabricate 3D-printed clothing using a single piece of plastic that requires no post-printing assembly, moves naturally and actually has a fashionable design.
Crafted by MIT alums Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, collectively known as Nervous System, the dress could represent the early stages of a fashion manufacturing revolution.
"I believe all previously 3D-printed dresses have been made in multiple parts that required some degree of assembly," Rosenkrantz told Mash. "This is the first 3D-printed dress that was wearable straight out of the machine. We were able to do this because we used simulation to compress our design into an efficient form factor for printing as a single part."
Printed using non-toxic nylon plastic at the Shapeways 3D printing factory in New York City, the Selective Laser Sintering process of fabricating the dress took about 44 hours. In order to make a single piece dress, the team designed it to have thousands of interlocking components composed of 2,279 triangular panels linked by 3,316 hinges. Because of all those hinges, the dress truly moves in much the same way as a normal piece of fabric.
The beginnings of their new approach to 3D printing developed after a collaboration back in 2012 with Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects. Their aim: creating software to rapidly produce customized 3D objects for mobile devices.
That approach led to further experiments with creating geometrically flat shapes that could be folded and expanded into other forms. The result is the Kinematics Dress.
Because the fabrication method requires hinges, it's not possible to create garments with no seams. But if you experiment with their online Kinematics Cloth app, which allows anyone to design dresses, skirts and tops, you can create a garment that is far less revealing.
"We are working on incorporating more types of linkages in our Kinematics system [other than hinges] that could create fabrics of different properties," says Rosenkrantz. "However, warmth is not a factor we are currently considering.
"We're more interested in creating hybrid fabrics that have properties which vary through space. We're looking at things like how can we create fabrics that are stretchy in some areas and more rigid in others."
The ingenious design of the dress was so impressive that New York's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) has acquired the dress, along with the software used to create it, as part of its Architecture & Design collection. No display date has been announced yet.
"For now, people can design their own pieces and save them," says Rosenkrantz. "Early next year we are planning to switch on ordering for more modestly sized and priced items like mini-skirts and belts. The turnaround time will be slightly longer than our other custom 3D printed items, around 4 weeks. They will remain bespoke as we feel that custom fit and style are essential aspects of the project."
Tags: 3D PRINTING, APPS AND SOFTWARE, CLOTHING, DESIGN, DEV & DESIGN, FASHION, GADGETS, Tech