Sep 16, 2015 | By Alec

While teachers and specialists from all over the world have already been calling for the incorporation of 3D printing into education, it’s good to see that 3D printing is at least on the radar in some political spheres. For in the Netherlands, the Minister for Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker wore a special outfit completely designed with revolutionary making technologies (including 3D printed shoes) to Prinsjesdag, the annual and traditional unveiling of next year’s budget. The complete outfit was designed by students from the Technical University Eindhoven.

Traditions are present in any political landscape, and in the Netherlands Prinsjesdag (or Prince’s Day) is the most important annual event on the political calendar. Always held on the third Tuesday of September, the entire national assembly gathers in The Hague for a speech given by the monarch, as well as for the unveiling of the plans for next year’s budget. It always draws a lot of attention, not just for the presence of the royal family, but fashion experts are always keen to see what the country’s most powerful women are wearing. And for the Education Minister, it was a perfect moment to show off what the latest technologies could do for the world of fashion. While you might not like the look of the dress, shoes and hat yourself, they are all very impressive.

The entire outfit was designed by students from the Technical University Eindhoven, a process that took more than two and a half months to complete. As one of the designers, Leonie Tenthof van Noorden explained, especially 3D printing is capable of adding a whole new dimension to the world of clothing. ‘This project shows just what the possibilities are when you combine fashion with technology. The entire outfit is surprisingly wearable and presents the wearer with a lot of interesting personalization options.’

The Minister herself was also very pleased with the results, as she told the students. As Bussemaker explained, she this scientific outfit was chosen as an opportunity to show how potent the Dutch high-tech and creative industry has become. ‘As part of education in the Netherlands, the next generation is learning how to pragmatically find solutions to any problem. Historically, the Dutch are also very good at working together, and all of that is perfectly illustrated with this very scientific outfit,’ she said.

Photo credit: photographer Tomas Mutsaers

The group of students had been working on this project in complete secrecy for some time, under the leadership of fashion designer and researcher Pauline van Dongen. This ‘Project J’ was done in the context of research project ‘Crafting Wearables’ at the TU Eindhoven, which is focused on designing and using new technologies in clothing and textiles. ‘I hope people with recognize the importance of technology in fashion through these creations and become curious about the materials and making processes that have gone in them. Hopefully, they will also wonder about what they are wearing themselves and recognize the value of their clothes,’ Pauline van Dongen said of the project.

And the different components are very impressive. The dress was developed with the hand of a 3D body scan, to ensure a perfect fit. They chose for this approach to illustrate that computer-generated patterns can be perfectly used to manipulate an ordinary piece of fabric. And to add a traditional touch, screen printing techniques were used for the patterns.

However, the shoes are perhaps most impressive, as several commercial attempts at 3D printed shoes met with significant hurdles in design. These particular shoes were made by PhD student Troy Nachtigall in collaboration with shoe innovation institute SLEM. With the help of a foot scan, the shoes were made to fit perfectly, and have been 3D printed in Filaflex filament. According to the scientists, they offer a perfect glimpse of the future of shoes: creating hitherto impossible characteristics and functions by programming materials and constructing them one pixel at a time. ‘These shoes represent a new way of manufacturing. The main challenge was the 8 cm heel, because the material is usually very flexible,’ the PhD student explained. The purse has been designed with the exact same principles and designs in mind as the 3D printed shoes.

According to Nicoline van Enter, the creative director at SLEM, the shows were also very comfortable to wear though that wouldn’t become clear until the very end. ‘The idea was that the Minister could try the shoes on before the big event, but we missed that opportunity because her work took her abroad for longer than initially anticipated,’ she said. First wearing the finished shoes on Prinsjesdag, they fortunately fitted perfectly.

The university was also very pleased with the results. ‘ This project is a fantastic opportunity to show a large public just what the combination of design, technology and fashion innovation can do,’ said Stephan Wensveen, university lecturer at the TU Eindhoven. The entire outfit will also be on display at the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven later in the year.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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