It is crazy, the innovations that take place in the scientific realm every day. Incorporating applications of science and technology in our daily undertakings is now more of a habit. The recent innovation that has caught many an eye is the field of 3D printing. In simple terms, 3D printing is the process of manufacturing three dimensional products from a two dimensional digital image. For example, you feed the picture of a key into your computer and wire it to a 3D printer, the printer will use the additive technology and manufacture a three dimensional product replica of the image you fed it.

Pretty amazing, right!

Now imagine this. What if your clothes were 3D printed? This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. In face many fashion designers over the last year have resorted to using the 3D printing technology to create clothing lines and have successfully managed to do it.

Why 3D printed clothes?

Generally, manufacturing garments is a wasteful industry. A lot of raw materials go waste in the process of producing one garment or clothing item. Alternatively, 3D printing technology is being introduced in the textile industry as an override to this major problem. Production of a finished garment through 3D printing will ensure that the produced product is the exact design that was visualised, hence making no room for wastage at any cost.

Another issue that most of the people have with readymade clothes are that they come in generic sizes and they all do not fit the way they would have personally liked them to fit. Manufacturing clothes via 3D printing takes care of that problem too. Since the printer has the digital reference of the garment it is going to print as well as the exact measurements of the person who is going to wear it, it gets printed directly in a custom fit size. That is a huge plus, isn’t it!

3D printing is also not as expensive as one might think. It is as affordable as manufacturing clothes by regular methods, nay, even cheaper in a lot of cases.

Since the clothes that are produced through 3D printing are only polymer based, fashion designers who want to play with other fabrics in their collections use the 3D printing technique to create interesting appliques or designing ornaments to be used on the clothes. Not only clothing lines, designers have even attempted at manufacturing custom fit shoes with the 3D technology.

There is a downside to 3D printing though. Since 3D printing works on the principle of additive manufacturing, production of an entire clothing item in its entirety at one go is a herculean task. Additive technology works on the principle of printing the product layer above layer (using only polymer materials of course) until the actual three dimensional product takes shape. Manufacturing clothes in a 3D printer, for now, is a multi-step process and is highly time consuming. Innovations and research is on in this area to eliminate the many procedural steps required in the production of a clothing item.

Steps are also being taken to make the 3D printed textile more eco-cautious and eco-friendly. 3D printed Clothing lines have been made that can be reused, reprocessed and recycled to be made into new clothes. Innovations are even being made to make the textile that is produced via 3D printing to be more bio-sustainable.

Also, the technology involved in making the 3D printing to work is slightly more complicated for the layperson. Designers are working closely with tech guys to be able to come up with a technology that is easier to use and access.

With everyone going gaga over this new whirlwind innovation in the clothing industry, we are all but excited for the promise it shows. Overcoming the above mentioned issues will not be difficult and 3D printed clothing does look like a bright prospect in the coming future.


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