3D printing technology is conceptually not too unfamiliar in fashion. However, its application into practice is still new only in the first step.
We can enjoy the future of 3D printing technology through exhibitions. For example, ‘ Manus x Machina, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2016. The exhibition has pointed out the difference between handmade garments and new technical garments. At the same time, a few masterpieces like Chanel’s suit are printed by 3D technique are also introduced.
The exhibition revealed the curtain of the new presence of 3D printing techniques in fashion. Many people consider this a new turning point that opens up the solution for textile sewing industries. The apparel industry is facing issues related to the environment.
3D printing technology is a breakthrough in fashion industry.
However, the application of this technology at mass scale remains a challenge. Because of this, this technology requires quite a lot of intricate detail.
3D technology amplifies the creativity.
The 3D technology is suitable for the implementation of complex structures. Like the Zac Posen dress that Jourdan Dunn wore at the MET Gala this year. Or those dresses that bring the human skeleton image of the Dutch designer Iris van Herpen. These designs are fully manipulmade from 3D printing techniques. And the 25cm high heels of the overly-talented genius Alexander Mcqueen during the 2010 show Plato Atlantis.
Valérie Vriamont, business developer and consultant at Materialize, said: “3D printing technique helps to make the creation of designers.” This Belgian-based company specializes in manufacturing 3D fashion engineering products for Iris Van Herpen.
Materialize also produces frames and shoe soles for many casual fashion brands. According to Vriamont, the proportion of 3D print frames has risen sharply. The 3D printing method provides the flexibility in production. Because of the 3D technique that allows the model to be updated quickly, the new fashion trend. Just change the parameters on the e-design file. 3D technology also helps to avoid the risk of backlog, which is unavoidable if traditional manufacturing is used.
The shoes of Adidas Futurecraft.
“Imagine you walked into a Adidas store. Just run a few minutes on the treadmill. Immediately, the machine will produce a pair of 3D printed shoes that fit like the print with your feet! “.
This is Adidas’s statement when introducing the Futurecraft model, a pair of sneakers with 3D printed soles. Last year, Adidas sold over 100.000 twin Futurecraft 4D. The retail price is about 300 US dollars but Adidas still sells fire. Even, sports brands want to increase their output in the future.
Other than conventional machining techniques, the shoe soles used 3D printing can be easily changed according to the buyers ‘ physique. For example customized thin thickness based on human biometrics, living habits and weight of the wearer. However, the individualized shoes are quite distant. Adidas is currently collaborating with American Carbon technology company to shorten printing time. At the same time, assess the potential revenue of these shoes in the future.
The limitations of 3D printing technology in fashion.
To date, the new 3D printing industry is mainly applied to concept products. Or the fashion and jewelry design haute couture.
Mr. Alexander Artschwager, researcher at the Denkendorf Institute, said: “There is still a lot of work to do until the technology is put into practice.” He also realized that it would have been a very long time before the 3D printing technology was applied to mass production. Especially because 3D printing technology has not solved the problem of textile fabric. If so, the projects are stopping in the experimental state.
Besides, the cost of 3D printing is also quite high. This is a wall that prevents the expansion of this technology in the apparel industry. Young students who want to apply 3D technology to graduation work pay up to 2.500 Euro. A full 3D printed jacket template must have a price of more than 10,000 euros.
The future of 3D printing technology in the fashion industry.
Mr. Artschwager said: “Fashion still develops if there are no 3D printing techniques. And vice versa. Therefore, both need to interact with each other more creative. ”
Maybe the 3D technique will not be widely applied. Nevertheless, the machining companies can apply this technology to shorten the stages of production. For example, as in the production stage sample. The 3D printing template products will easily help manufacturers change parameters, sizes or textures. Surely this will be the first step of the integration between 3D printing techniques and apparel industry.