May 24, 2017 | By David

The world of fashion retail could be completely revolutionized in the upcoming years, with the influence of 3D printing technology, and a new software solution released this year could be one of the first major signs pointing the way forward for the industry. Hitting the market in September, Share Cloth’s application of the same name will be compatible with Windows and Mac OS, and it will allow designers to create 3D designs for products or garments that can be 3D printed.

The current state of the global fashion industry seems unsustainable for a number of reasons. Most garment production takes place far away from the initial design centers or sales locations, in high-output, low-wage economic environments. This long-distance supply chain is made even more complex and unwieldy by the dominance of huge high street and online retailers, which require an intermediary network of warehouses and distribution centers. When a designer comes up with a new idea for a product, it can be sometimes up to 6 months until the garment line is available for sale to customers.

The long supply chain also leads to management problems such as overproduction, which is wasteful from a business point of view and even more hazardous due to the difficulty of recycling the materials used in mass garment manufacturing. The fashion industry is currently the world’s third largest polluter, producing 10 percent of all carbon dioxide and using 25 percent of all chemicals. Realistically, things aren’t likely to change without the help of some kind of technological upheaval. Luckily that’s exactly what 3D printing technology offers, and the release of Share Cloth’s software should make the process of 3D printing fashion products much more easy and accessible for established and upcoming designers alike.

Currently, someone wanting to produce a prototype of a garment they designed would need to use complex 3D printing software made for entirely different purposes. Share Cloth, however, is designed specifically for 3D printed garments. It was created in collaboration with fashion designers, working within the framework of the Moscow Design Biennale. Traditional garment patterns and basic clothing items are preset in the application, to be imported and directly 3D printed, or customized however the user sees fit. New designs can also be made from scratch, with just a little more technical expertise.

ShareCloth.com is the new project of Sergey Moliavko. After he spent 7 years running a marketplace for Eastern European fashion brands, he founded the fashion tech startup to specifically focus on implementing 3D printing into fashion retail. A whitepaper published by the company as part of the new software release suggests that not only will 3D printing technology enable faster prototyping, it could eventually replace mass production of garments. The range of materials that can be 3D printed is already expanding much faster than expected. Fabrics of all kinds will be available within 3 to 5 years, and materials identical to leather will be available as 3D printing material by next year. A flexible, bio-degradable plastic useful for many product applications is already in use.

While the fashion industry is currently focused on aggressive sales strategies and marketing, Moliavko believes that 3D printing technology offers a new alternative, one that will benefit retailers and customers alike. Instead of companies competing with supply chains and investments, the design of the products themselves could determine the success of a brand.

 

 

Posted in 3D Software

 

 

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