A Revolution in Fashion Forward Design
The fashion world is always evolving and changing. Fabric is the medium of choice for clothing as it remains the most comfortable material possible. Whether that fabric is natural, such as cotton, or synthetic, such as nylon, we have seen much from the fashion world and their use of various fabrics. Today’s fashionistas and designers are always looking for the next big thing and where paper dresses made their mark in the 1960s and everything went neon in the 1980s, today, designers are looking to 3D Printing to make the next big idea in fashion.
Already Some Success
When 3D Printing parts for projects and various designs, rigidity of the piece is what tends to be noticed more than anything. 3D Prints are generally designed to hold their shape and stand up to a level of stress depending on the materials used. This is not a good attribute of fabric. Fabric is supposed to flow and conform to movement. That is what makes clothing and blankets so comfortable. In order to get a rigid material to behave in this manner, it takes a lot of time and attention to detail.
Currently, there have been a considerable amount of success in the 3D Printed fabric world, but there have also been some remarkable failures as well. One thing that has become apparent is that currently, even with the flexible filaments available for 3D Printers is that true flexibility is difficult to maintain. When you look at fabric, in general, you will notice thread is stitched together and even the tightest woven fabrics have microscopic holes. The weaving process allows for fabric’s flexibility and stretchiness to take place. 3D Printed fabric must be made to behave the same way, but when 3D Printers produce intricate, single layer pieces, the flexibility is not apparent, and these fabrics can sometimes crack by simply moving the material.
3D Printed Fabric fragile design. This design may flex but will ultimately fail to produce a strong enough piece of fabric that will not crack when put under pressure.
A More Involved Design
The key ingredient in 3D Printed fabric is not to merely mimic the look of traditional fabric pieces but reinvent them to conform to the confines of standard 3D Printer materials. It sounds a bit odd, but the most successful pieces of 3D Printed fabric have been those with a wider design and interlocking pieces. To account for the non-flexible nature of many 3D Printer materials, the artist must design in a way that allows for flow through interlocking pieces rather than a completely stitched piece. This might sound strange, but in the blow picture, we can plainly see the backing of the 3D Printed fabric is comprised of interlocking pieces that allow the piece to mimic the look of fabric, but not go against the rigid nature of 3D Printer materials.
3D Printed fabric that moves easily through interlocking pieces in the backing and a honeycomb textured front to minimise holes in the piece.
Where are We Headed with 3D Printed Fabric?
The future is the only unknown we have in this world, but with 3D Printers we can see a vast improvement in their used in industries such as the fashion world. Where 3D Printing has become an essential entity for cosplayers and even many fashion designers, it has also inserted itself into NASA as well. One of the most successful pieces of 3D Printed fabrics available was actually created by those we trust to send us to space. Below is what they created.
Notice even with the all the technology they possess, NASA still maintains almost a chainmail style structure the backing of the 3D Printed fabric to hold the interlocking solid metallic pieces together.
We may soon see a time where the interlocking makeup is unnecessary, but as for now with 3D Printed fabric, each piece must be very intricately designed to mimic the movement of fabric without diminishing the quality and durability of the piece. However, as more and more materials come available for 3D Printers, we are sure to see a lot of success from these fabrics in the near future.
We have already seen a drastic increase in the number of fashion designers employing their own 3D Printers to make specially pieces for fashion shows. Having available 3D Printers and the ability to print fabric to order will drastically cut down on manufacturing costs to the designer and give them more flexibility should a piece break to tear just before a show is to take place. We are just now seeing the growth of 3D Printers for fabric printing, but we have truly not seen all these machines can do for the fabric and fashion world.