3D Printing Takes The Fashion World By Storm

When Chuck Hull invented the 3D printer back in the early eighties, revitalizing the fashion world may have been the last thing on his mind. Fast forward to 2014, and Hull’s invention has proved instrumental in changing the way we’re creating clothes, shoes and jewelry, to name a few.

3D printing is uniting experts from different professions, as architects and fashion designers team up to take things to the next level.

Whether it’s a necklace packed with diamonds sold at a staggering $105,000, or a pair of football cleats by Nike perfectly designed to match your foot – 3D printing has found yet another market to sink its teeth into.

3D Printed ‘Platinum Diamond Riviera Necklace‘ – Sold for $105,000

Besides ushering in a new wave of creativity, 3DP is also reducing fashion’s carbon footprint. Regardless of the increase in plastics that one may associate with printing’s penetration into the mainstream, commonly used materials like PLA are corn-based. This points to a reduction in the less environmentally friendly petroleum-based plastics.

It’s difficult to mention 3D printing’s finger in the fashion pie without this powerful image of Dita von Teese donning this stunning dress.

Architect Francis Bitonti and fashion designer Michael Schmidt teamed up to create this masterpiece, providing a necessary catalyst for the fashion industry to take this branch of technology seriously.

Dita von Teese Poses In A Fabulous 3D Printed Dress

The burlesque star modelled the world’s first fully articulated dress at an exclusive event at the Ace Hotel in New York, hosted by the 3D printing marketplace, Shapeways.

The designer dress was created based off the golden ratio, a mathematical equation found throughout the universe which humans readily identify with beauty. For more on how the golden ratio (aka the Fibonacci sequence) was incorporated into the dress, check out this interesting Youtube video.

Courtesy of a 3D scanner, von Teese’s body was scanned down to the last curve and turned into a 3D model, giving the team behind the dress unprecedented customization abilities.

This special ensemble has 17 different pieces, which were adjoined, lacquered and fitted with over 13,000 Swarovski crystals. On top of that, the dress has 2,500 intersecting parts which had to be attached by hand.

Encrusted with 13,000 Swarovski crystals

Currently, this picturesque piece will only interest the wealthiest fashion aficionados and celebrities. However – so long as you don’t expect a few thousand diamonds on your average 3D printed dress – we can expect to see less glamorous garments made at home sometime soon.

Shapeways is the 3D printing company on the forefront of the fashion battle. But who else is involved in this fiery relationship between fashion and technology?

He may not be as stylish as Bitonti or Schmidt, but Google’s Head of Engineering Ray Kurzweil is causing shock-waves in the fashion world – by proclaiming that we’ll all be printing clothes at home within a few years.

By 2020, Kurzweil, aka “the restless genius” (as the Wall Street Journal branded him) foresees the sharing of 3D printable schematics as an everyday thing. Currently, 3D printing’s online fashion world has yet to blossom, but the seed has been planted.

Kurzweil emphasizes the importance of open-source development, a huge step towards the great transformation that the fashion world would go through – so long as the restless genius’ predictions are correct. Perhaps one day, a fashion equivalent of Thingiverse will emerge, symbolizing the shift in power in a fashion industry valued at $1.7 trillion in 2012 (according to FashionUnited’s statistics) in America alone.

For more on Ray Kurzweil’s insight into the future of 3DP, technology and fashion, check out one of his many interviews here :