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Fashion breakthroughs thanks to 3D printing collaboration at NYFW

Published on September 20, 2019 by Carlota V.

At New York Fashion Week (NYFW) last week, fashion witnessed some breakthroughs thanks to a new technique developed by one of the 3D printing giants, Stratasys. The collaboration between the 3D printer manufacturer and fashion designers threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch enabled 3D printing directly on fabric – opening up a new range of applications in the high-end fashion sector. Typically, 3D printed elements are created separately and attached to fashion garments afterwards. This time around, Stratasys seized the opportunity to print directly on textiles using the J750 PolyJet 3D printer. 

The Chro-Morpho collection shown during Fashion Week was inspired by the beauty and colour morphology of insects. Adi Gill, co-founder and creative director of threeASFOUR explained: “We’ve created the skin-like illusion of switching shades and depth to portray the insect’s innate camouflage, color diversion and luminosity. With 3D design and printing, we’ve embodied the fragility and light wing movement of the butterfly.” This is achieved by 3D printing spherical and fish scale-sized cells made of photopolymers directly onto polyester fabric. The thousands of cells on the dress’ 27 parts consist of a clear lens with strips of colour contained inside. The whole procedure takes about 17 hours. 

3d printing nyfw

The Chromo-Morpho Collection

The J750 printer can produce more than 500,000 combinations of colours, textures, gradients and transparencies. This gave designers unlimited design freedom and potentially enables end users to be involved in the design. Enabling such a range of combinations also means that cost and time are reduced when manufacturing a piece, and the supply chain is simpler, possibly a big benefit for some companies that wish to develop out of the ordinary pieces. 

In terms of comfort, 3D printing can sometimes be tricky as the materials are not the most comfortable. In order to counter this problem Naomi Kaempfer, Art, Design and Fashion Director at Stratasys explained: “Soft, lithe fabric touches the skin, while 3D printed designs adorn the outer garment. This approach, developed through months of collaboration and testing, was the only way to realize the designers’ vision.”

This is not the first time Stratasys explores the world of fashion. The company has previously collaborated with Iris Van Herpen and other industry luminaries. The end mission is to re-think design, or as Naomi Kaempfer puts it: “We are always looking to revolutionize manufacturing methods, pioneer new design options, and inspire designers and students to create without boundaries. Our mission is to change the way people think about design and to redefine what’s possible.” 

The J750 PolyJet 3D printer from Stratasys

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