The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Gives Clothing a Personalized Touch Thanks to 3D Printing

Published on December 14, 2022 by Madeleine P.
3D printing clothing

Especially in these times of fast fashion, where a piece of clothing from one brand sometimes looks confusingly similar to a piece from another brand, one thing is increasingly gaining in importance: individual and personalized clothing. How this can look at the highest technical level, namely using additive manufacturing, was demonstrated by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University within its 3D Printing Technology Center Laboratory (U3DP), which was founded in 2017. Their goal is to offer researchers, faculty and students of the university access to academic research through optimized technological change – as in this case in regards to 3D printing of clothing.

This particular research project, which is called “Exploration of Fashion Design, Based on Textile 3D Printing” looks to combine rigid polymers and soft fabrics, all while overcoming possible material limitations. The idea is that anyone should be able to produce customized designs with different fabrics and garments. Furthermore, the researchers were looking for a way to ensure that the printed products would be directly washable. To be able to achieve this with their 3D printed clothing, they partnered with 3D printing manufacturer Stratasys and its fashion machine, the J850™ TechStyle™.

3D Printing on Clothing of Different Textures, Fabrics and Sizes

When the research team began the first steps of their project, it quickly became apparent that one of the resulting challenges was poor surface adhesion to various materials. Thankfully, it is clear that the J850 TechStyle 3D printer has already proven its mettle countless times, with additively manufactured designer pieces showcased at Milan Fashion Week earlier this year. As a multifunctional end-to-end printer, it helped the Hong Kong research team to print soft and flat substrates such as denim, polyester, cotton or even canvas, but can also produce strong colors and lifelike textures.

While the U3DP has a whole range of different 3D printers aimed at different industries, they are now also able to further explore the fashion sector thanks to additive manufacturing. The U3DP further explains the choice of Stratasys, commenting, “Stratasys PolyJet™ 3D printers have always been known for their ease of operation and excellent user experience, enabling teaching and research staff to master the use of this new 3D printer in a short period of time.”

And thanks to this, custom patterns and colors can now be printed instantly onto fabrics of varying thicknesses or even materials, eliminating creative limitations as well as adding a three-dimensional feel to the production of future fashion. To learn more about the use of 3D printing to create clothing at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, please click HERE.

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*Cover Photo Credits: Stratasys

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