Oct 7, 2017 | By David

One of the most eagerly anticipated events at this year’s IN(3D)USTRY expo in Barcelona was the awards ceremony for the Reshape 2017 contest. Following on from Reshape 2014: ‘’Digital Craft’’ and Reshape 2016: ‘’Wearable Technology’’, the theme this year was ‘’Programmable Skins.’’ Entrants were tasked with the design of next-generation wearable technology, focusing on new materialities and interactive relations.

Online platform Reshape was created with the aim of promoting research into cutting-edge design and advanced digital manufacturing techniques, with 3D printing technology being one of its key areas of interest. The international network of creativity and new ideas that Reshape has established is pointing the way forward for a huge range of industries, and it represents all that the IN(3D)USTRY conference hopes to be.

Before the winners were announced, Reshape director Aldo Sollazzo hosted a roundtable discussion on wearable technology, with a number of luminaries from the worlds of retail and consumer goods. Paul Sohi of Autodesk, Peter Hanappe of Sony Computer Science Labs, and Adidas’ Director of Design Operations, Simone Cesano, were all present, amongst others. They also served as the jury for the Reshape contest.

A key theme that emerged from the panel’s discussion was that of sustainability. Considering the difficulties that come with the disposal of electronics and the significant carbon footprint of most existing manufacturing processes, the wearables of the future will have to contribute something new to the retail landscape in a way that offsets all these potentially damaging aspects. In opposition to something like the Apple Watch, which merely offers a novel take on an established functionality, new ways to use materials and new types of relations between the consumer and their environment were the most valuable things that a wearable could offer, and this proved to be the case with the majority of the nominees for the ‘Programmable Skins’ contest.

This year’s runners-up were the team behind the ‘‘Be (in the) water’’ project, Barcelona-based Nuria Diago Camps and Maria Carrion Amettler. Their entry was a nose clip for swimmers, based on the Voronoi structure. It was produced entirely using 3D printing technology, made using polyamide materials and the SLS technique. This digital-based manufacturing process allowed for complete personalization, and the clip is adapted to the skin surface of the wearer’s nose. This makes it a form of ‘’second skin’’, as it regulates the relation between the swimmer and their environment, processing data from both sources.

The ‘’Be (in the) water’’ clip was designed with the synchronized swimming world in mind. While nose clips are traditionally designed to be hidden away and barely visible, this clip’s unique, personalized shape and harmonic balance with the wearer give it a particular aesthetic appeal. This enables a re-conceptualization of this product as a ‘’jewel’’, something that can add value to the sector by contributing to the visual appeal of a strongly aesthetics-focused sport.

The overall winners of Reshape 2017 were Snezhana Paderlina, Nikita Replyanski, Christopher Diaz, and Maria Replyanski, from St Petersburg, Russia. Their project was entitled the ‘’Graduated Spinal Support System’’, or GS3. This corset-like wearable device is designed to provide dynamic back support. It is equally suitable for someone who is undergoing physiotherapy and rehabilitation from back problems and for otherwise healthy people who carry out a lot of strenuous physical tasks.The device consists of mostly 3D printed components and as such can be personalized according to the patient’s spinal structure to enable optimum comfort. A selection of high-performance, flexible fabrics were used to assemble the GS3.

Not only this, but the 3D printed parts were also designed to integrate a neural network into the device. This network is a lightweight cable mechanism that is capable of ‘learning’ what task or movement the wearer is attempting to pull off, and adapting the structure of the device accordingly. Data about the wearer’s rigidity and support level at various points is processed in order to enhance the existing musculature and provide improved spinal support. In this way the GS3 is a unique hybrid device, combining fashion and functionality as both garment and exoskeleton.

In their acceptance speech, the GS3 team explained how much they liked the idea of turning what might be thought of as a weakness into a strength. We’ve seen something similar recently with many 3D printed prosthetics, particularly ones for children or athletes, but something like the GS3 has the potential for even more widespread application. Based on the general concept of adding value instead of just solving a problem, we could the fashion ecosystem and the medical device sector becoming increasingly intertwined in future.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Events

 

 

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