Jan 31, 2017 | By Tess

We’ve long been aware of graphene’s material potentials—its exceptional conductivity, its lightness and strength—but we have to admit, we never thought we’d see it used to make a dress! Now, for the first time ever, wearable tech company CuteCircuit and the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester have used the groundbreaking material to construct a stunning little black dress, all with the help of 3D printing.

Graphene, the revolutionary material with strength 200 times greater than steel, unprecedented electrical and heat conductivity, and a unique transparent quality, has been touted as the material of the future, with the potential to impact almost every aspect of our daily lives, apparently even fashion.

The graphene dress was recently unveiled by CuteCircuit at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, the English city where scientists first isolated graphene, opening up the doors for research potential everywhere. If you’re still not totally convinced about graphene’s impact, the scientists who succeeded in isolating the atom-sized carbon form went on to win a Nobel Prize for their research. The material has also presented stunning opportunities within the 3D printing industry, including 3D printed graphene super batteries, and recently, a 3D printing material 10 times stronger and 20 times less dense than steel.

The dress, which is stunning to look at, contains so much more than meets the eye. With graphene sensors integrated into its structure, the dress is capable of doing some really amazing things. For starters, a contracting graphene band that fits around the wearer’s waist can monitor the wearer’s breathing rate, translating the rhythm to micro LEDs on the front of the dress, which changes colors and flashing frequencies according to the breathing patterns.

National Graphene Institute, Manchester

According to the University of Manchester, the 3D printed graphene filament used on the dress “shows the intricate structural detail of graphene in raised diamond shaped patterns and showcases graphene’s unrivalled conductivity with flashing LED lights.”

The amazing features of the dress can be controlled via the “Q” app, which CuteCircuit developed for the graphene garment. Cute Circuit, for those unfamiliar, is the London-based innovative wearable tech company that has gained recognition for its designs for artists the likes of Katy Perry and Nicole Scherzinger, who wore the famous and world's first Twitter Dress.

The graphene dress, which is currently on display at the Trafford Centre, could be indicative of a future trend in fashion. Within the industry, many are hopeful that graphene, as a highly conductive, flexible, and transparent material, could be used to create wearable screens, so to speak, which could display digital images and be programmed by the wearer. Think of it as an ever-updating clothing item, with changeable colors, patterns, etc.

Francesca Rosella, chief creative director for Cute Circuit, commented on the project, saying, “This was such an exciting project for us to get involved in, graphene has never been used in the fashion industry and being the first to use it was a real honour allowing us to have a lot of fun creating the stunning intu Little Black Graphene Dress, and showcasing graphene’s amazing properties.”

Similarly, Dr. Paul Wiper, a research associate at the National Graphene Institute, said: “This is a fantastic project, graphene is still very much at its infancy for real-world applications and showcasing its amazing properties through the forum of fashion is very exciting. The dress is truly a one of a kind and shows what creativity, imagination and a desire to innovate can create using graphene and related two-dimensional materials.”

The graphene dress was commissioned by the Trafford Centre in Manchester to celebrate the city’s title as “European City of Science.” Once the dress is done being exhibited there, it will be available to museums and galleries for tech fashion displays.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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