July 13, 2015 | By Alec

While 3D printers are slowly but surely invading fashion schools and runways throughout the world, one Chinese maker has used her printer for a very unusual and quite sexy project. Going by the redditor handle of SexyCyborg, she has used 3D printed parts and a set of LEDs to turn a denim miniskirt into a very cool, very flashy underlit miniskirt that can change colors. A perfect DIY option for cosplayers, steampunk fanatics or even girls who want to wear something unusual on a night out.

When sharing her designs on Reddit, SexyCyborg explained that she was looking for a fun and high-tech wearable to change her look. ‘You can see [that existing wearables] are often not really something you can wear out- even to a rave or music festival etc. They are normally only used for short fashion shows or meetups and not really designed for wear. I wanted something a little less bizarre, more user friendly for the sort of girls who are already adding LEDs but want something better,’ she wrote at the time.

Fortunately, there was one Japanese designer who was totally on the same page. ‘One of my favorite wearables is the Hikaru Skirt. My problem with the existing design is:Limited external control (just responds to movement) and the ugly frilly skirt/tutu style is not suitable for anyone over 8 years old (or at least not Japanese),’ she explains. So, she decided to put an open source spin on the Hikaru skirt, but then in the form of a mini/micro skirt with a control pack hidden in the belt buckle. And while it might be a bit too short for some of us, SexyCyborg sargues that this length passed off for normal length when the LEDs are turned off.

Now the great thing about the Hikaru skirt was that it was programmable to give off different lights, and the SexyCyborg version of this project also incorporates that option. While this project might be a bit complex for people without any building experience whatsoever, others will find it quite doable. It doesn’t even need any soldering, and costs less than $100 in parts. Not bad for a skirt that should be fully functional for at least five hours. But of course, the same concept can be easily applied to virtually every piece of clothing. ‘My project a derivative,’ the talented Chinese builder tells reporters. ‘My focus is not so much on the actual skirt but on a very simple hardware framework that other women without any previous electronics experience could use to add LEDs to clothing.’

SexyCyborg has since made two versions of this interesting building project, but both function largely similarly. They consists of LED strips, an off-the-shelf Bluetooth LED controller (with app operation options) and a 3D-printed battery pack that doubles as belt buckle. ‘You can select colors to match your outfit, patterns for a specific occasion (I used red, white and blue for a 4th of July party and was a big hit),’ she adds. However, with a little bit of programming you can add lots of colorful pattern options. Even a sensor to react to movement and music is possible. Perfect for changing appearances, or matching colors with friends. ‘Chinese girls love to wear matching outfits on a girls night out. Not only can our skirts match colors, they can chance in sync or strobe in complex patters across a group’, she lists as just one of the options.

If you want to tackle this project, you can find a full tutorial here and a full list of components here. SexyCyborg emphasizes that it should be relatively easy to replicate, but learn from here mistakes! ‘The 5050 RGB LED strips are in a plastic sleeve to protect them from water- I wanted the dress to be able to deal with sweat and spilled drinks without problems. The plastic also insulates from heat. Unless there is metal going over them. Metal conducts heat (who knew?). This led to me almost jumping out of the thing while I tried to get the test leads off. Once again folks- no metal near LED and sensitive bits of skin,’ she advises.

Colors and more can be controlled with a simple bluetooth app.

As for 3D printing the battery pack container, the best option is probably version two. 'One of the main issues with that first version is the battery pack sticks out a bit far. I redesigned it to be flatter with a bit of a curve. This one is more compact and a better shape. Still big but I want four hours of bright light and battery size is a problem for all wearables,’ she says. Fortunately, she finds it quite comfortable to wear. ‘I wanted girls to be able to make these and wear them out dancing or partying all night. The battery is a bit big but the weight is on my hips and it does not bounce around or anything so is quite comfortable.’

The 3D printed container for the batter pack itself was designed in Tinkercad software, which is the only design software she was experienced in. ‘There is quite a bit of wasted space. If I make another version it can be much, much smaller. It works though,’ she says of the designs. It was 3D printed on a large build platform version of the UP 3D printer in PLA and holds a rechargable 2000mah 12v lithium polymer battery.

So far, the skirt has been a huge hit, both on the web and at all the places where SexyCyborg wore it. ‘Many girls asked where they could buy one. I told them they can’t buy one but I can teach them how to make your own. Really that is the whole point so I was pretty happy. Making is not hard, if you can follow recipe you can follow tutorial. Any girl can and should make, code and hack,’ she says. And even with a basic 3D printer, this should be easier than ever before.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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