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Technologies Review | August 27, 2014

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Rapid Fashion: 3D Printing Hits the Runway

It seems like every year that passes brings us closer to our society’s idealized version […]


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It seems like every year that passes brings us closer to our society’s idealized version of the future. Imagine bringing an iPad to a box social in 1950; how many heart attacks do you think you’d cause? As time marches by, technology also creeps out of our offices and homes and into other sectors of our lives. One trend I’ve picked up on over the past few years is how tech fashion is being created and sold to denizens of an increasingly digital world.

Apple has helped popularize technology and elevate to it culturally iconic status with its timeless aesthetic design. As a result, we are starting to see technology play a larger role in the fashion world. The first time I can remember Apple being used effectively as gear was the old-school iPod Shuffle with the clip. A later iteration of the Shuffle was literally turned into a pretty fancy watch by an enterprising entrepreneur and subsequently blew up. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some interesting ways tech is infiltrating your closet.

Three-dimensional printing may be the newest manufacturing process to be introduced to the runway in a while. Previously used to create rapid prototypes for businesses, 3D printing has made a splash in the past year with Andreia Chavez’ Invisible shoe.

The pump is carved by a 3D printer and merged with a pump. The shoes have been called the Lamborghini of pumps, but that has more to do with the geometric design than the cost.

The first 3D printing bra has hit the market and ladies are going wild! The garment is a piece of the Continuum Fashion line. Here, some information from the designer Mary Huang:

“The bikini’s design fundamentally reflects the beautiful intricacy possible with 3D printing, as well as the technical challenges of creating a flexible surface out of the solid nylon. Thousands of circular plates are connected by thin springs, creating a wholly new material that holds its form as well as being flexible. The layout of the circle pattern was achieved through custom written code that lays out the circles according to the curvature of the surface. In this way, the aesthetic design is completely derived from the structural design.”

While 3D printing may still be a relatively nascent technology, that hasn’t stopped industry leaders from hosting a fashion show to spur the creativity of 3D printers.

RAPID 2012 is a four-day event held in Atlanta that will showcase designers who create clothing, shoes, accessories and jewels with 3D printing. Not making this up.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers is looking for entrants:

“Attendees will be impressed by the innovative way fashion and manufacturing will come together as models donned in 3D printed items walk the runway,” said SME business development manager Gary Mikola. “We’re pleased to offer aspiring designers a chance to gain recognition in their field while experiencing this unique opportunity to participate in the 3D printing industry.”

 So there you have it!

If you’re a technology minded fashionista/o, you may want to consider this unexpected industry to make your mark. America’s Next Top 3D Fashion Model is just around the river bend.

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