In 2015, Monik Shah founded the 3D printing service 3Dwalla in Mumbai, which offers 3D printing and prototyping services to accelerate product development and innovation. The startup, with a tagline of “Prints Beyond Paper,” encourages people to design and manufacture products that can compete in our ever-changing world, and the team of 3Dwalla experts help enthusiasts, hobbyists, designers, manufacturers, and students turn their ideas into successful 3D printed products. 3D printing technology has been used to manufacture everything from cars and rocket engines to musical instruments and liver tissue, and 3Dwalla has helped users create products like an air intake manifold for a car, rapid prototype aerospace parts for an architecture project, and a 3D printed art installation about Mumbai at the city’s Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
Recently, 3Dwalla had the opportunity to collaborate with fashion design student Devanshi Shah on a project for her fashion institute’s final year showcase. Devanshi asked the startup to help her 3D print garments, but rather than relying on existing fabrics, she had a vision of creating new, unique ones, with 3Dwalla’s help. Additionally, she had specific types of garments she wanted to make: maternity wear. Her passion in experimenting with advanced technologies made it easy for 3Dwalla to agree to the project collaboration.
“To be involved with the making of garments for a fashion project is fantastic for us as a company,” Monik said. “Our team has a passion for collaborating and implementing big ideas and so I knew this was the perfect opportunity to bring our 3D printing and manufacturing services to the forefront, as well as getting our brand out into an international arena.”
Devanshi was inspired by a painting, called “Hope II,” which showcases the beauty of an expectant mother. We’ve seen all kinds of 3D printed clothes, from dresses adorned with butterflies and secret messages to intergalactic-looking dresses and a very custom coat, but this is the first time we’ve seen a 3D printed maternity wear collection.
As 3D printing technology allows for an iterative design process, Devanshi would work on her designs, then discuss her ideas with the 3Dwalla team, and together they explored different 3D printing techniques and design possibilities, making revisions when necessary. Once the garment designs were finally completed, it was time to 3D print the new fabrics, which would not only have to capture the elegance of the painting that originally inspired Devanshi but also match the creativity of her designs.
One of the most important factors was getting the material just right for the specific 3D print jobs: to manufacture the unique fabrics, Devanshi and the 3Dwalla team had to experiment with and test out different concepts, in order to maintain the proper balance of style and comfort. But they were more than up to the challenge.
The 3Dwalla team ended up recommending that Devanshi use thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) fabric, as it would make the fabric elastic, and fluid in the bias direction, in comparison with other tested materials. The material would allow the team to 3D print four-way stretch fabrics, so the garments could be stretched lengthwise and crosswise, and TPU gave the garments both an appealing aesthetic and a great fit.
They also used flex material to 3D print the fabrics for the maternity garments, as well as connectors. Over 400 pieces of fabric, and more than 350 connectors, were printed, to help create interesting patterns, like floral and waves, for the garments. FDM 3D printing technology was used to manufacture the fabrics. Thus, 3Dwalla and Devanshi created 100% 3D printed fabrics – no other material combinations were needed, even to form the more complex design factors, which showcases “all the design freedom offered by 3D technology.”
In addition to her unique and innovative 3D printed maternity line, it appears that Devanshi also manufactured at least one piece of menswear: an attractive red vest. I’m not sure if that will be part of a different collection or not, but it has the same look and feel as her 3D printed maternity dresses. 3Dwalla notes that the process of working with Devanshi to develop her 3D printed fabrics really showed “how technology-driven design is pushing boundaries of material and textile in the fashion landscape.”
Monik said, “The team’s dedicated efforts and passion has made this collaboration of 3D printing and fashion design truly satisfying. We hope the amalgamation of fashion design and 3D technology continues to be rewarding and enduring.”
3D printed fashion is becoming more accepted these days, with couture collections popping up all over the world, from the Balkans and Japan to Egypt and the Netherlands. This wasn’t 3Dwalla’s first time working with 3D printed fashion, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. Share your thoughts in the 3Dwalla forum at 3DPB.com.[Images provided to 3DPrint.com by 3Dwalla]