3-D printing interesting but impractical method of designing clothes

Fashion and science are merging, creating opportunities to make clothing with 3D printers. Amazon

Amber Phillips

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Creating clothing is one of the most interesting and mysterious applications of 3-D printing. But imagine the ease of formatting a design one morning and creating it in the living room to wear that day. It is obvious why this idea has so many people thinking. The reality is, while it may seem like a great solution, 3-D printing clothing is currently possible but 
very inefficient.

Knitic, a company formed by artist duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet, created an open hardware knitting machine. Ironically, most of the machine’s parts were 3-D-printed, but the produced goods are considered ‘electronically knit.’ The company’s goal is to integrate textile fabrication into the current Maker culture. The first digital fabrication tools date back to 1976, but Knitic aims to get these machines in people’s homes. As more people take interest in the idea of digital fabrication, funding for exploring more efficient means of true 3-D-printed clothing 
will follow.

Inefficient as it may be, 3-D-printed clothing has been explored. In 2013, Dita Von Teese, a burlesque dancer and model, shocked the press by modeling a fully 3-D-printed gown in New York. The floor-length dress was based on the Fibonacci sequence and adorned with over 13,000 Swarovski crystals – a solution to the stiffness of the dress, the crystals catch light and create a sensual flow. Michael Schmidt designed the gown and worked with architect Francis Bitonti. The dress is composed of Nylon printed by Shapeways. Thousands of unique components were 3-D-printed in the mesh designed exactly to fit Dita’s body, proving the possibility of printing complex, customized, 
fabric-like garments.

More recently, the startup project Electroloom has been getting 
attention for its attempts to create the first 3-D printer to print comfortable sets of clothes. Aaron Rowley took initiative after noticing the gap in 3-D printing wearable basics such as T-shirts, sweaters and beanies. His goal is to democratize access and participation in the fashion industry. People across the globe could have access to designs via the Internet and download and print them in their homes.

3-D-printed clothing has come far in two years, but it still has a long way to go before it will be seen in mainstream fashion.