Known as one of the premier fashion events in the entire world, New York Fashion Week is a citywide celebration of the most innovative and disruptive fashion designers in the industry. Over the last few years, the runway has increasingly been infiltrated by 3D printing technology, which has allowed these designers to expand their imaginations and create geometrically complex garments that would be near-impossible to produce with traditional methods.
From a magnificent fashion collaboration between Shapeways and renowned womenswear label Ohne Titel, to the math-inspired 3D printed dresses created by Stratasys and the design collective threeASFOUR, 3D printing has become a critical tool for designers looking to create fashion for the future, or even those who wish to meld this emerging technology with traditional processes. This past week, 3D printing technology and NYFW conjoined yet again at the FTL MODA showroom, but this time around, the project had a purpose beyond the world of fashion.
On the fashion show’s runway was the lovely model and congenital amputee Shaholly Ayers, a rising star in the fashion world who has set out to change the way that society perceives disability. For the FTL MODA show, Ayers partnered with Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit organization started at the University of Central Florida to produce 3D printed prosthetics, to create a 3D printed bionic arm that captures the essence of high fashion and the function of a superhero. Equipped with the 3D printed prosthetic, Ayers hit the runway with impeccable grace and her child in tow, aiming to promote more diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry.
The 3D printed bionic arm was 3D printed with ABS+ in the Limbitless Solutions laboratory, and was also equipped with a 3D printed clear mesh that was produced for them by Stratasys using their PolyJet 3D printing technology. The bionic arm itself took approximately 36 hours to 3D print, and also underwent a chemical process to enhance its look. After the printing process was complete, the Limbitless Solutions team assembled customized electronics within the 3D printed prosthetic. Designer Anatoliy Dzhuga then hand-placed 270 rhinestones onto the bionic arm, giving the fashionable superhero prosthetic its finishing touch. According to Limbitless Solutions, the bionic arm cost less than $500 in materials for them to produce.
The bionic arm was integrated with electromyography, which allows Ayers to open and close her hand at the flick of a bicep. The 3D printed prosthetic proved that functional assistive devices and high fashion are far from mutually exclusive. The event was also impactful for Limbitless Solutions, which has generally focused on producing themed 3D printed bionic arms for children in need, rather than for the runway. Together, Ayers and Limbitless Solutions have proven that although a disability may make you different, the difference is beautiful. By breaking down the barriers of the restrictive fashion world, Ayers is helping to make the runway a place for every type of person to strut their stuff. Discuss further over in the Limbitless Solutions Bionic Arm forum at 3DPB.com.