Sep 19, 2017 | By David

As 3D printing becomes more and more accessible to people outside the manufacturing, science, and technology sectors, we’re starting to see its potential realized in all sorts of interesting ways. The combination of 3D printing and fashion, for example, may not seem like the most natural fit, but it is starting to become an everyday reality all over the world.

In New Zealand, a recent exhibition at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) demonstrated what is now possible at the intersection between digital manufacturing and fashion design.

3Ders spoke to Simone Leonelli, of the W230 design studio in Perth, about his aptly named ‘’Blurred Boundaries’’ exhibition, and the ways that 3D printing and fashion design interact. Originally from Italy, where he worked as a Interior and Furniture Designers for several major brands, he moved to Australia to work as both a jewelry and architectural designer. Inter-disciplinarily projects have always been his favorite, due to their development process being ''always intriguing and challenging."

"The concepts of fashion are forever developing through different processes and technologies," Leonelli told 3Ders. "One of the most exciting and fluid methods of nowadays expression is achieved by the use of computational design and 3D printing manufacturing...3D printing is a process that can be adapted to many different sectors and disparate tasks. It is an incredible piece of technology which is still at its initial stages of discovery.

"The true scope of its flexibility and scalability is yet to be discovered, with R&D labs announcing new developments everyday. It is impossible to produce geometric modelling through traditional manufacturing methods, complexities can simply not be achieved through injection mould, or even milling processes. Although you might be able to carve these shapes by hand, it would be extremely labor-intensive. This method therefore allows me [to] maximise productivity [without] compromising on the quality of the design.’’

Blurred Boundaries was a part of the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival Program, and showed 3D printed garments and accessories inspired by the beauty of the sea. Leonelli described it as an exploration of fashion, biological structures, and technology. "Its forms are not driven by imitating nature's designs, but rather as a combination of the way in which nature designs and its human interpretation," he said.

The exhibition came about as a result of Leonelli’s "Fashion Total Look" project, started this year. After previously experimenting with 3D printed elements in combination with fabrics and other traditional materials, he began to produce garments exclusively through 3D printing. His studio uses two regular desktop FDM 3D printers, and mostly prints with PLA filament. This thermoplastic was the favorite of his team due to its being non-toxic, biodegradable, and bioactive, derived from renewable resources such as corn starch, cassava roots, chips, or sugarcane.

(All images: Florian Michaud)

Describing his workflow to 3Ders, Leonelli said that he uses computational design methodologies, which allow him to handle complex geometries and non-standard objects. "Additive manufacturing is the key [to translating] what is going on in the display of my laptop into real tangible objects," he said. "The beauty of working with these high-tech tools is the possibility of working without following a standard workflow or hierarchy.

"You can, for example, flip the object upside down to mimic the reverse engineering process, begin with the finished product or result, and work backwards. You can even jump from one part of the timeline to another with a huge amount of flexibility and freedom...3D print manufacturing makes creative ideas simple to produce. It is currently one of the most efficient ways to transform design ideas into products."

Leonelli has several other projects currently in the pipeline, and more of his work can be found here. Based on this most recent exhibition, coupled with the gathering momentum of the 3D printing world and 3D printed fashion in particular, we doubt this is the last we’ll hear from Leonelli and the innovative w230 studio.

 

 

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