Dec 22, 2016 | By Julia

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Chicago-based fashion designer Laura Thapthimkuna has just unveiled her newest creation: the Vortex Dress, a stunning galaxy-inspired piece made entirely through 3D printing.

Thapthimkuna’s fascination with outer space, the galaxy, and black holes informed the designer-turned-design-engineer’s garment, which she has been working on for over a year. Earlier design pieces included a 3D printed necklace and several heavily sci-fi laden works. The Vortex Dress, though, marks the maker’s first attempt at fashioning an entirely 3D printed outfit.

“I kind of had a ‘eureka’ moment,” Thapthimkuna explained, “because ever since I started designing I kept trying to create really structural shapes that were very difficult through traditional means of using fabric and tailoring, and I wanted to try my hand at something new.”

Back in September of 2015, the designer launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, which proved successful. Now, after more than 12 months of work, she is extremely pleased with the results, which she plans to exhibit in fashion shoots and galleries.

Laura Thapthimkuna

Thapthimkuna admits that she didn’t expect the process to be quite so painstaking. “I had to kind of surrender myself to the process since all the challenges I was facing were for the first time. There was definitely a learning curve,” she said. Beyond the difficulties of 3D printing an entire dress for the first time, Thapthimkuna’s concept contained its own set of challenges. “I would say one unique thing about the print is its size, which was also a challenge because I had to anticipate weight distribution and center of gravity,” she noted.

Thapthimkuna began the process by sketching out different ideas stemming from layered, biomorphic funnel-type shapes. The 2D sketches were then rendered into printable 3D design files using 3D modeling programs ZBrush and Maya. For her large scale 3D print, the designer used a high-resolution, structurally rigid, paintable resin material. The print was finished in a slick coat of black paint.

According to Thapthimkuna, the Vortex Dress would be impossible to make without the advantages of 3D printing. “I used 3D printing to create this design because I couldn’t see any other way of creating it. Also, it was a great opportunity to design my first fully 3D-printed garment,” she said.

In addition to mastering the technical challenges of the work, the maker found that she had to re-think how she approached fashion design. “Learning to let go of the notion that I have to do everything myself was challenging for me initially. As an artist I’ve always done everything myself from start to finish, [but] with 3D printing I need to work with others and let them interpret my vision to an extent, which turned out to be very rewarding in the end,” she explained.

Thapthimkuna said she found the experience of collaborating with others from outside mediums very intriguing. “3D printing adds the value of innovation by showing what’s possible when going outside of my comfort zone as a designer.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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