MyMiniFactory and the rich future of 3D Printed Fashion

The fashion industry has been embracing additive manufacturing in recent years. MyMiniFactory also have talented 3D designers creating 3D printable fashions. What have these parties been able to create with the method and what does it mean for the future?

@JeremyGreer

a year ago

3D printing is a process that is fast making its way into all areas of design and production. We’ve discussed its applications in environmental & ethical aid, RC vehicles, tabletop gaming and art history. But there is one other, rather significant, area of design that we would like to touch upon. An industry that many believe will be embracing 3D printing more and more throughout 2019 and beyond. That of course, is fashion.

What’s so significant about fashion that makes it one of the most important fields of design? Fashion affects our lives in a way that very few sectors ever can, because unlike other commodities, clothes are a necessity. Whether we wear clothes to protect our modesty or stay warm- as consumers, we’re all a part of this design industry whether we realize it or not. For centuries, fashion has been used to reflect culture, status and social groups. It’s an identifier, a statement, who you are. If you still need convincing on how integral fashion is to society, watch The Devil Wears Prada, it’ll become more clear.

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Fashion is constantly in motion, reacting to the world as it changes around us. So as additive manufacturing becomes more profilific, the fashion world begins to embrace what it can offer and evolve towards the innovation.

3D printing is an increasingly accessible process, allowing people of all backgrounds to design and create objects from home. For fashion this means that entire collections can be designed and created by those with fewer resources. Moreso, it offers simplicity. For instance, with no prior experience with 3D printing, fashion designer Danit Peleg created her collection, Liberty Leading The People.

As well as being accessible, additive manufacturing can be used to solve problems. For example, 3D printing offers an easy mechanism to manufacture simple repairs to clothing, such as replacement zippers. 3D printing is also an effective way to prototype items, making tailoring for size, fit and any other special requirements precise and quick.

Fashion is also about iconography! It’s about showing the world who you are. Do you wear a hoodie with your college logo on it? Or a necklace inscribed with a loved one’s name? That’s fashion. 3D printing allows for a greater level of customization in design than ever before. When applied to fashion it allows you to express your individuality in an unprecedented way.

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Liberty Leading the People

In the end, fashion is all about the aesthetic and appeal. 3D design and 3D printing allows indie designers to create unique, fresh looks and wearable art in ways traditional manufacturing was limited. The question now persists: is fashion being held back by the current process of production? With the ability to customize, solve problems in a more accessible and affordable way, and manufacture innovative designs, many believe that 3D printing will become the foremost way of designing and manufacturing fashion in the near future. Only time will tell.

Every designer, especially in fashion, started small. MyMiniFactory has been a safe space for emerging 3D designers and talented artists with grand ideas to share, remix and detail new concepts. This welcoming and engaged community are creating their own fashions through 3D printing. Since we’ve already explored how 3D printed fashion was used in 2019’s Met Gala, let’s look at some of the other ways the fashion industry is embracing the technology, and see how our very own community is doing so as well.

 

Jewellery

One of the easiest things for additive manufacturing to produce is items of rigid plastic. This means it’s perfect for prototyping concepts like jewellery. For quite some time, jewellery manufacturers have been utilizing simple 3D printing technologies to prototype their designs before they’re ready for mass production. However, recently, many have started to apply the process to items that will actually reach the consumer.

As early as 2014 companies like American Pearl, have been able to offer customization of their pieces to create bespoke Jewellery. They did this by allowing customers to specify a size, shape and a metal, among other parameters. They could then create a 3D printed mould based on specifications fitting their desired material. Thus creating a more cost effective way for consumers to own unique pieces of iconography.

As additive manufacturing has evolved, the ability to 3D print using metal has offered new opportunities to Jewelry manufacturers. Just a few months ago, in September of 2018, Boltenstern won at the TCT awards for ‘Best Creative Application of 3D Technology’, with their Embrace Collection. The collection, billed as the world’s first 3D printed precious metal collection, consists of gemstones set within woven 3D printed cages. These cages can then be used as earrings, rings, bracelets, basically any item of jewelry you can imagine. And there’s even a level of customization available. The collection highlights how 3D technology can shape the future of fashion accessories.

On our very own platform, our wonderful designers are busy creating their own forms of iconography for Jewellery with 3D design.

Many people use fashion to express their love for their favorite sports team, a landmark they visited, or a Film/TV series. Branded paraphernalia in particular can often be quite expensive, especially of brands that are more niche to the public consciousness. There are plenty more affordable T-Shirts of Mickey Mouse around than there are of Bayonetta.Fan art is a big category on MyMiniFactory. In the subcategory of fan art jewellery, you will find many designers have taken it upon themselves to design pieces inspired by  their favorite brands. Here are just two popular examples.

Printed Obsession’s sleek ring that bears the symbol of Ubisoft’s popular Assassins Creed Video game franchise has been downloaded by our community over 2,000 times. He’s no stranger to creating 3D printable rings. Check out his lion ring and skull ring too. Another game inspired design, Lloyd Roberts’ The Witcher talisman is a perfect replica of the quest item from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

These pieces really highlight the way that accessible, home 3D printing can have an affect on the world of fashion accessories. People can now create iconography for themselves, that express something about them (in this case reflecting their favorite video game) that’s customized and can be shared with like minded members of the community.

Shoes

Unlike jewellery, shoes require comfort and functionality in order to work as a product. They must be flexible enough to support the movement of the foot, as well as breathable and above all comfortable. 3D printing as it originally stood created structures too rigid to have any use in this field. But accessible materials of additive manufacturing have come a long way, and we can now produce objects with a range of properties.

In 2017 Adidas partnered with 3D manufacturing company, Carbon to create a new line of sports sneakers, the Futurecraft 4D (featured below). Using their state of the art 3D printing methods, Carbon created a sole for the sneaker by 3D printing it from liquid. This allowed the shoe to be lighter and more flexible than other Adidas shoes, as well as highly durable. Production was also drastically sped up and less costly using their process. Another  advantage is the ability to procure a shoe better moulded to fit each customers foot. As Adidas would be able to produce it quicker and at a lower cost, personalized fits could become more readily available. This is particularly important for people with disabilities who may need specialist shoes; as more personal options would become available to fit their needs.

 

This year Adidas once again teamed up with Carbon to make a new range of sneakers, this time also working with designer Stella McCartney. Together they have created a new iteration of 2018’s AlphaEdge 4D, which expanded on the Futurecraft 4D technology. The shoes are aimed specifically at women, and are optimised to be the best in terms of performance and comfort, according to Adidas.

MyMiniFactory hosts a range of shoes, created by talented 3D designers. Each using the technology to test the limits and capabilities of home 3D printing. Here are two of our favorite such designs.

Recreus 3D has utilized the range of motion of their very own Filaflex, a filament that allows you to 3D print in a rubbery, flexible material. They printed both the body of the shoe and the laces in Filaflex, allowing for greater movement, which is essential for running. The capacity of Filaflex is really an indicator that home 3D printing methods will continue to evolve to the point of one day producing our own clothing. This is only Recreus’ initial creation, they have since gone on to create the Sneakers II and the awesome Pixel Shoe by expanding on the Sneaker I design.

Michela Agnese Badia also used flexible filament and traditional PLA’s to create her aphrodite shoes. PLA for the main body of the heel, with the flex for the strap and to add cushioning to the shoe; demonstrating that 3D printing can be used to making fashion that’s stylish and practical. Be sure to check out her other designs, including the Softlicious Shoes and Detachable Heels Shoes.

Clothing

Clothing is one of the hardest areas to incorporate 3D printing. It requires the highest degree of flexibility, breathability and comfort of any other area of fashion design. This means additive manufacturing, as it exists today, is not able to compete with everyday textiles on a marketable level for clothing. Though, that’s not to say that it has no use or  that processes aren't coming about to make 3D printed clothing more feasible.

While 3D printing may not be available in the mass market for clothes, one area of the fashion industry that has wholeheartedly embraced the process, is high fashion- That’s the expensive collections by big name designers you see strutting down the runway in Paris, the stuff you usually look at and think, “how would anyone wear that out?”

Iris Van Herpen is a world famous Dutch designer, whose signature style comes from fusing traditional fashion with the latest technologies. Her designs are some of the most outlandishly beautiful in all of fashion, just have a Google of some of her collections- you won't be disappointed. It’s no surprise then that Van Herpen was one of the first major designers to begin investigating how additive manufacturing technology could be used in her designs.

As far back as 2010, Iris Van Herpen met with digital manufacturers .MGX by Materialise to learn all she could about the process and how she could incorporate it into her designs. The two together then collaborated with London Based architect Danial Widrig, to create the world's first collection of 3D printed clothing, in the Crystallization collection. The collection was inspired by the process of liquids becoming solid- just like filament cooling after you 3D print your own designs. The group followed this collection up the next year with Escapism collection.

Since then Iris Van Herpen has continued to use additive manufacturing time and again in her collections. Last year she debuted the Ludi Naturae Collection (Seen Below) which incorporated 3D printed components onto each outfit. One dress in particular had hundreds of 3D printed lizard-like scales covering its entirety, the aim was to use the latest technology to evoke the natural world. With this years collection, Shift Souls, she has once again made use of the process, creating 3D printed face jewellery to compliment the outfits.

3D designers on MyMiniFactory have been inspired just like Iris Van Herpen, they’re busy creating unique ways of incorporating accessible 3D printable designs into wearables. Two designs that employ the functions of commercial 3D printers to create plastic fabrics that could be used to design our very own fashion collection are from Vinh Vu and Devin Montes.

Vinh Vu created an easy to print, support free fabric, using a swathe of small connected squares of PLA. He designed it so that even printed in rigid PLA it would be movable enough to be used as a textile, try printing it in filaflex as well for that extra level of flexibility and a new texture.

Devin Montes, of Make Anything, loves to experiment. He wanted to see if he could effectively produce a fabric purely from 3D printing. He experimented with many different designs before settling on this stylish triangular design. It can be downloaded in sheets of several sizes, which you could connect to make a larger sheet if you desired, there also STLs for making fabric of multiple colours with a multiple extruder printer. You can check out his process and what he came up with before the final design here, and while you’re there check out the rest of his channel.

Devin’s mesh design is a great example of innovation with commercially available 3D printing techniques. This STL file, like all of Devins’ can be found exclusively on MyMiniFactory.

Costumes

When you look at Iris Van Herpen’s 3D printed, smooth geometric shapes encompassing her ensembles they may evoke the sense of a futuristic world. Her Ludi Naturae might inspire a sense of fantastical world of dragoniform warrior garb. The stuff of hollywood. This is where additive manufacturing comes in to create some truly unique and breathtaking costumes.

3D printing has recently become an increasingly sought after process for designing a look for Hollywood movies. Most prominently, in the past year, the process was used by Ruth Carter to design the costume for Angela Basset’s Queen Ramonda in the highly successful Marvel Studios film Black Panther. Carter Designed the Queen’s head dress based around a traditional married woman’s hat from South Africa, known as the Isicolo. She felt it looked like a crown, and wanted the design to be perfectly formed to enhance its royal nature. She stated, “The only way that we could get it perfectly shaped was to have it 3D printed.

By taking a traditional garment and meshing it with 3D printing, the outcome becomes perfectly suited to demonstrate Wakanda’s melding of traditional African culture against its futuristic technologies. Carter also used 3D printing on the Queen’s shoulder mantle, which she based on African lace. The pattern was put into a computer and algorithms designed the mantle, which was then 3D printed in a flexible material. “She can actually get it on and get it off and wear it, its wearable art.

Incredibly, it was these designs that made Ruth Carter the first African American to win the Academy Award for Costume Design. Turns out, 3D printing in fashion design is not only helping to break boundaries but also win Academy Awards.

One of the best things about movie costumes is the inspiration they bring to fans. Superhero films like Black Panther have a long history of encouraging Cosplay at conventions across the globe. Have a Google of Queen Ramonda cosplay and you’ll see that many women have already had a go at recreating this 3D printed spectacle. On MyMiniFactory, cosplay is a popular area of 3D design, from video game characters to sci fi warriors. Many 3D designers have created costumes based on Black Panthers fellow avengers, for example:

Designed using Zbrush and 3D Studio Max, Stefanos Anagnostopoulos’ Ant-Man helmet is fully wearable. This superb piece of cosplay was designed after he saw the trailer for 2015’s hit movie, which shows the passion and commitment our 3D designers have to their creations. It’s a complex build, with 9 parts, but worth it to hit up that convention as Paul Rudd’s size-manipulating superhero.

For the ladies to join in the action, Juri Munkki designed these gauntlets based on the ones worn by Scarlett Johansson in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Not only is this design a terrific replica of Black Widow’s wrist mounted weaponry, it prints support free and also includes capability for electronics. This means you can configure your gauntlet to shine with blue lights as if it’s shooting electricity, just like in the movie.

 

Additive manufacturing is touching every part of the fashion industry, adding new depths to design and solving problems that traditional methods cannot conquer. It is clear that as 3D printing evolves further it will become more suited to creating accessible, affordable fashions both in industry and at home.

The future is certainly a bright one.

 

If you feel inspired to create some 3D printed fashion of your own, whether that be jewellery, footwear or your own fabric, please share it with us and the MyMiniFactory community.

 

To spread the style post your designs on our discussion page on Reddit, or our Twitter orFacebook.

 

And don’t forget to Vogue!

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