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Monday, 1 June 2015

Research Project: A Fashion Q&A

Over the last few months, a number of different Fashion students have contacted me to learn more about how 3D printing will / already is effecting the industry. I'm really pleased to be able to help, and moreover, I really enjoy answering their questions.

I thought I'd post a recent Q&A I answered from an LCF student, who is conducting a research project into 3DP. If you have any thoughts or objections about my answers, please do get in touch as I'd really love to extend my knowldge in this area.

Your opinion on 3d printing and fashion:

I’m incredibly excited about the integration of 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology within the realm of fashion design and production. For me, the idea of achieveing perfectly tailored / couture clothing opportunities via 3D scanning and printing signals a natural progression within the industry, and I love the possibilities that such tech suggests. There are a number of critical tensions involved however - mostly that the maintenance of craft and hand-skill within the creation of (high-end) garments cannot and should not be overlooked. Contemporary designers working with the technology are finding ways to combine both tradition and tech to create innovative aesthetics for wearable pieces.

If these two fields are merging:

‘Fashion’ and ‘Technology’ are two extremely wide-raging terms to indicate industrial field - and with this in mind, I hesitate to simply answer ‘yes’. That being said, technology has always been an important part of fashion design and production, and I do not see the development of 3D printing to be exempt from supporting Fashion in the future.

Is there a viable future for fashion tech:

Wearability will always matter, and currently, I see the options for ‘wearable tech’ as being quite limited. Despite it’s invention over 30 years ago, 3D printing is still very much in its infancy with regards to end-use opportunities (perhaps the aerospace and medical sectors are an exception here). Especially within Fashion, usability still has a very long way to go - and essentially, the use of 3D printing within the production of a garment is very different to the use of robotics / electronics: a talking point which feels rather in vogue at the moment.

Where will 3D printing be in 2016:

The one thing that matters the most to interested people (across industry verticals) at the moment is materials. Without materials which can maintain the necessary properties once printed, appropriate end-use cannot be properlly achieved. 3D printing a rigid nylon cage (as a dress) has so far been recognised by the industry as 3D printed fashion - but only when more robust, flexible, and comfortable materials can be built into the production process will real progress be made. I do not think we will see a shift like this in 2016, but perhaps in the coming 5 to 10 years we will. Hopefully I can be proved wrong!

Is there a sustainable ambition with 3D printing:

Certainly. The opportunity to produce fast fashion efficiently (with minimal waste) continues to drive interested individuals and companies - and perhaps most overlooked in this area is the benefit of distributed manufacture via 3D printing. The transport of mass produced fashion goods costs the environment more than many of us realise, and it’s exciting to imagine the digital delivery of fashion files to be 3D printed, instead of racking up the air miles.