Oct 16, 2015 | By Kira

With designers such as Iris van Herpen, Julia Koener and Behnaz Farahi breaking the mould in high-tech wearables, incorporating some of the most advanced materials into visually stunning patterns and unprecedented conceptual designs, haute couture 3D printed fashion has truly taken off. However, the truth is that outside of the runway, these 3D wearables just aren’t something most of us can actually wear. They are often rigid, made from difficult to manage materials, or include spikes or architectural shapes that would surely stick out on a crowded metro. But above all they are incredibly complex and unattainably expensive, preventing them from making the transiting from runway to real life. On last night’s Project Runway, however, the contestants were challenged to use 3D Systems’ new Fabricate line of 3D printed textiles and Cubify 3D printers to create couture-worthy pieces you could make in your own home, and the results are stunning.

The 3D Fabricate line is described as a ‘holistic new discipline’ that reinvents 3D printed fashion as we know it, from pattern-making to textile design to the filament itself, allowing a broader access for 3D designers at home. Rather than 3D printing with rigid, rubber-like materials, the Fabricate system blends 3D printed textures and embellishments with traditional soft fabrics. With the downloadable Cube-ready patterns available online, users simply 3D print a PLA ‘footprint’ layer, glue-on some specialty mesh fabric the size of the print plate, and then print the texture on top of the mesh so that it is ‘sandwhiched’ in. The 3D-adorned fabric can then be sewed onto any regular piece of clothing.

For the season 14 Project Runway contestants, the affable Tim Gunn challenged them to create architectural outfits inspired by a New York City bridge while incorporating the 3D printed Fabricate textiles. Though some of the contestants were familiar with 3D printing, and others had never even heard of the concept before, they all dived in with enthusiasm, imagination and finely-tuned skills. Each of the designers was paired with a 3D modeller from 3D systems to help them make their 2D sketches into printable digital files, which were then printed on Cubify printers in the studio.

The resulting pieces ranged from a sexy black dress embellished with 3D printed ‘Xs’, to the winning design, a 3D printed appliqué avant-garde gown inspired by the bridge’s red bricks and crocodile-skin texture. The winner took home a Cube 3D printer and package of Fabricate supplies.

To prove just how accessible this new concept of 3D printed fashion is, you can actually 3D print some of the contestants’ designs at home with the downloadable patterns and STL files, available for purchase for $29.99 at the Cubify store. The pieces include Edmond’s black ‘Xs, a ‘punk princess’ V-neck appliqué and shoulder patch, a triangular bikini, and an elegant, drapey t-shirt with a flattering pleat down the centre. Actually going from runway concepts to realistic patterns, these are the kinds of pieces I could easily see myself wearing, and making your own dress sure beats showing up to a party and realizing three other girls are wearing the exact same one.

This isn’t the first time the popular Lifetime hit Project Runway has featured 3D printed fashion. In season 12, deaf contestant Justin LeBlanc accentuated his ‘Soundwave’ themed runway collection with 3D printed belts and accessories, which moved and impressed the judges. Through their collaboration with 3D Systems, and the new Fabricate line of 3D printed textiles, 3D printed fashion is being opened up to an entirely new audience, from independent runway designers to our very own closets.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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