3D Printing in Fashion: Designers Alexis Walsh and Justin Hattendorf Tell Us About Their 3D Printed Apex Coat

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Alexis Walsh

Alexis Walsh is a fashion designer we’ve been following for a while, ever since she introduced her 3D printed fashion with the Lysis Collection in 2015. We also admired her 3D printed Spire Dress a year later, and we were excited to learn that she has recently completed a new 3D printed project in collaboration with up-and-coming designer Justin Hattendorf, a graduate of the Pratt Institute School of Architecture in Brooklyn.

Walsh and Hattendorf’s Apex Coat is a wearable work of art, a black sheath studded with iridescent white 3D printed spikes in varied shapes and sizes. Valued at $5,000, the coat took six months to design with custom-developed software and is just one part of the pair’s six-piece collection, which includes both clothing and accessories. We recently got the opportunity to talk to Walsh and Hattendorf about the design and their future as a team.

Tell us about the design process behind the Apex Coat. What inspired this particular design?

Justin Hattendorf

“We had discussed doing a project together, and decided to collaborate on a garment that implemented 3D printing in a way that neither of us had seen before. After some brainstorming, we chose to create a piece with 3D printed hardware that is manually attached, combining familiar assembly methods in decorative hardware with new forms only possible through 3D printing. Our design process spanned approximately six months, including the creation of a custom application for generating the stud formations, 3D models, and several prototypes that perfected the forms. We created the final garment in one week, sewing the coat and manually attaching all 900 of the stud pieces.”

What kind of 3D printer(s) and materials did you use?

“We had our pieces printed at Voodoo Manufacturing in Brooklyn, NY. We used translucent PLA because we wanted to integrate transparency into our project. Immediately, we noticed that the layered texture created by FDM printing produced an unique refractive effect when combined with the encased brass hardware, so we decided to play up the effect instead of using other printing methods.”

Why did you decide to use 3D printing for this project, and what made Voodoo Manufacturing appeal to you as a partner?

“We chose to work with Voodoo because we were originally testing and prototyping our pieces on a MakerBot printer, and working with them allowed us to significantly increase the scale and complexity within our time frame. We are also based in Brooklyn, so Voodoo’s location was very convenient. We chose to use 3D printing because every stud within the garment design was a unique shape, and with 3D printing we were able to create completely customized forms that we would not be able to make using other fabrication methods.”

Do the other pieces in the collection involve 3D printing, and do you have plans for more 3D printed pieces in the future?

“Currently, this collection consists of the Apex Coat, and an accompanying clutch bag. The clutch bag is made of vinyl with attached 3D printed stud hardware. After creating these two pieces, we have decided to expand these ideas further into an ongoing collection.”

In your opinion, what is the place of 3D printing in the future of the fashion industry?

“Like laser cutting, digital weaving machines, and other recent innovations in garment construction, 3D printing will soon become an easily accessible method of fabrication in the industry, offering new potential for exploration. We think that 3D printing opens the door for highly customized fashion by combining hard and soft materials in innovative ways, and allowing designers to develop clothing that is tailored specifically to an individual’s body.

Apex Coat is our first collaboration, and we plan to expand this piece into a series of new 3D printed garments and accessories within the year. We’re very excited to continue sharing our projects!”

The Apex Coat was recently debuted at the Harvard Identities Fashion Show. This isn’t the first 3D printed fashion that Voodoo Manufacturing has been involved with; the service bureau also 3D printed Chromat’s Adrenaline Dress, a smart garment that knows when its wearer is feeling stressed. We’re excited to learn that Hattendorf and Walsh plan to continue working together; if the Apex Coat is any indication, they’re a team full of creative ideas that we look forward to seeing come to fruition in the future. Share your thoughts on this design in the Apex Coat forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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