Redefining Consumption as Design

***The Make Den welcomes our awesome new Technology Blogger and Futurist in Residence, Amelia Zhang.  She will be writing about Fashion and Technology for us over the summer before returning to school at The Rhode Island School of Art***

Although 3d printing’s inception dates nearly 30 years ago, it is only recently that the price  has become accessible enough to pose it as a ubiquitous industry game changer.  Google CEO Larry Page has described the future of manufacturing as the ‘Robot Economy‘, and the implications are mind blowing.  DitaVonTeeseinMichaelSchmidtbyAlbertSanchez

Dialogue on the impact of 3d printing on fashion can be loosely divided into three categories:

1. Redefining custom fit.
2. Exploring forms that are extraordinarily complex and impractical by means of traditional manufacturing, or Generative Design.
3. Redefining consumption as design rather than commodity.
4. Cradle to grave design becomes commonplace.

Redefining ‘Custom-Fit’

Coined as “the world’s first fully-articulated 3D printed gown”, the dress shown above is the brainchild of designer Michael Schmidt and architect Francis Bitoni using the software and tools available on Shapeways.  (Shapeways is the Etsy of 3D printing, allowing users to both design and sell files, as well as shop for anything from 3D printed wedding accessories to bike chain cufflinks.)

This nylon gown is created through a 3d printing process called selective laser sintering. In this process the form is built up through depositing layers of nylon powder and then fusing it with a laser.  Although the individual modules are made of rigid plastic, the dress permits movement due to its netted structure. The dress is also an example of the future ‘custom fit’ where 3d scanners were used to scan Von Teese’s body. Previously a custom tailored garment would take measurements at key places such as the waist, bust, length…etc. Whereas now the custom fit garment would be made to measure every single part of your body.

Generative Design
A pioneer of 3d printing in fashion, the young Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen’s sublime creations are extraordinary complex sculptural feats of engineering and design.   Van Herpen frequently collaborates with architects and material designers, such as architect Daniel Widrig and material designer Neri Oxman. She fully takes advantage of the capabilities of 3d printing by creating extraordinary complex forms through generative coding processes.


Redefining Consumption
How does sustainability fit into the future of 3D printing?   Cubify has already created a 3D printer that can recycle used pop bottles.  Affordable 3D scanners are on the verge of becoming ubiquitous.  

Suddenly, we can scan and replicate items from a completely sustainable source.  ‘Lost Luggage’ is a concept series created by Finnish artist Janne Kyttanen in partnership with 3D systems. It is a completely 3d printed travel wardrobe. The concept behind it is in the near future when 3d printing is ubiquitous, one will think about ownership in an entirely new way. Rather than carrying luggage, one simply downloads their luggage and prints it at the destination. However this also sparks another controversial dialogue on the future of commodity? What would the impact of piracy be on an industry based on selling digital design files rather than physical objects?
~Amelia Zhang