Since its unveiling at New York Fashion Week last fall, the ability to 3D print directly onto fabric has drawn significant interest from the world of high-end fashion. Exemplified by the works of fashion designers threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch on NYFW’s catwalk, this technological milestone gave the world a preview of what fashion design could look like when combining the geometric and aesthetic freedom of 3D printing with the comfort of fabric.
Since then, 3D printing leader, Stratasys, has been working closely with a number of household fashion brands to optimize its novel PolyJet Technology™ to meet the needs of modern-day apparel fabrication and make customized fashion design commercially viable.
As the company works towards this goal, Stratasys is proud to reveal today two collaborative works with esteemed fashion designers Julia Koerner and Ganit Goldstein. The works form part of Re-FREAM, a collaborative research project funded by the European Union bringing together artists, designers, engineers and scientists to co-explore the use of technology and 3D printing for the future of fashion.
At today’s virtual ARS Electronica Festival, Koerner unveiled her latest collection: ARID. The works are built on research focusing on digital processes from 2D to 3D for nature-inspired geometries and the connectivity and adaptability of textiles with multi-color 3D-printed parts – with an underlying focus on material efficiency and sustainability.
ARID amalgamates this research into a collection of 38 3D-printed parts that can be combined to form a full-dress, or cascade into a number of different looks and combinations. Using Stratasys’ PolyJet Technology, the digital designs were 3D printed directly onto sustainable fabrics in vivid colors, creating an enigmatic shimmer effect when the garment is in motion, while maintaining the comfort and wearability of fabric garments.
The collection also allows for the easy adaption of personalized sizes through modified 3D printed connectors, which are derived from 3D scans of the wearer. There is no sewing involved in the final assembly of the parts. Instead, all seams are connected with 3D printed joinery, which is the first time 3D printed connectors have ever been used in the assembly of textiles.
Goldstein teamed up with Stratasys to achieve her mission of customized fashion design by combining craft methods with direct-to-textile 3D printing to produce a Japanese-style dress.
“Looking at the fashion world today, I want to introduce a new way of manufacturing – moving away from mass production to customized design,” says Goldstein. “3D printing has always offered the potential to personalize design in ways not possible before, but to truly create a new way to manufacture requires a new kind of textile. My goal is to create a new hybrid world of crafts and multi-color 3D printing – connecting past, new and future techniques to evolve fashion design.”
Goldstein spent a year in Japan to learn interweaving and was inspired by Asian craft embroidery and textile painting. Her kimono design follows the Japanese ‘ikat’ coloring method. While Japanese embroidery is the soul of the project, direct-to-textile multi-color 3D printing is at the heart of it. The kimono follows an algorithm that is composed on the 3D body scan and translated to the print surface during the printing process.
For the first time in 3D printed fashion, textiles can be leveraged as the skeleton of the garment. This allows for extra movement within the fabric, but also enables full gain between the capacity and material thickness that is printed on top of the fabric. This enables designers to bring unique designs to market that are not possible in any other way. It also challenges Stratasys to take the technology to places it’s not been before to support the emerging demand for direct-to-textile printing.
“In fashion, it’s important that we continually optimize and evolve to introduce new design forms,” says Goldstein. “During the past year, I experimented with numerous different fabrics and technologies to incorporate 3D printing within textiles. Achieving this milestone takes us away from 2D design and opens up a world of wearable 3D garments.”
Koerner and Goldstein leveraging Stratasys’ direct-to-textile printing technology exemplifies Re-FREAM’s goal of fully digitizing design workflows – from design through to production. In doing so, it demonstrates the possibility for localized manufacturing and mass customization – regarded by many as the future of fashion.
As Goldstein attests, direct-to-textile 3D printing has the potential to be a game-changer for the fashion industry. With the commercial interest in this innovative technique already at an advanced stage and pilot-testing underway, it may not be long before potential becomes reality.