Recently, the Miss South Africa pageant took place. The winner was 23-year-old medical student Tamaryn Green, but the 2011 winner, Melinda Bam, also had a place in the spotlight this year. Since winning the title seven years ago, Bam has gone on to found her own swimsuit line, called Bambshell, which provided the swimsuits for this year’s competition. Bambshell designer Ciska Bernard created a series of beautiful, elegant bikinis with a special touch – 3D printed flowers.
The flowers were 3D printed with Selective Laser Sintering technology using the Sinterit Lisa, the first desktop SLS 3D printer created by Sinterit in 2015. The versatile Lisa has been used for everything from medical devices to firefighting tools, and lends itself well to 3D printed fashion, as it turns out. The flowers to be attached to the swimsuits needed to be extremely lightweight and flexible – like “a second skin,” according to Sinterit. Build Volume, the service bureau that 3D printed the flowers, used Sinterit’s Flexa Black TPU material, which provided the smooth, lightweight properties the flowers required.
“Most of our clients use hard materials like PA12. It becomes a standard for a broad range of industries. But fashion needs more flexible solutions. It is not so easy to find a dependable, flexible material that would be a perfect match for the fashion industry and available for 3D printers. But as several years ago only a few people believed that SLS technology could become a desktop solution, available for every company, now we would like to go forward with the range of materials,” said Konrad Głowacki, one of the Sinterit Co-Founders. “After months of testing, we are happy to provide two reliable products: Flexa Black and Flexa Gray.”
The delicate flowers show how far 3D printed fashion has come in recent years. It hasn’t been long since 3D printed fashion was mostly stiff and bulky and unwearable outside the runway, but advances in 3D printing have allowed designers to create small, lightweight and subtle 3D printed touches to fabric as seen at Miss South Africa – and even fully 3D printed ensembles as seen at Miss Globe 2016.
“Due to the fast development of 3D printers, 3D scanners, and modeling software, 3D printing is becoming more and more exciting and affordable for personal users,” said Don Vermeulen, the CEO of Build Volume. “With 3D printing, ‘everything’ is possible.”
The swimsuits nicely complemented the other clothing worn by the Miss South Africa contestants, a collection of Afrocentric designs.
“The contestants showed off the Afrocentric Beauty collection which showcases the colorful complexities of African culture in a celebration of color and bold prints,” said Bam. “Each print is custom designed for this range and incorporates a mix of ethnic, tribal and modern prints on voluminous capes, juxtaposed against the sleek silhouettes of the swimsuits.”
Beauty pageants are, obviously, all about beauty – not just of the contestants, but of the clothing that they wear. Each piece is carefully selected and designed to impress viewers. It’s hard to add too much to a bikini to make it truly unique, but the 3D printed flowers of this year’s collection were the perfect addition, made possible by SLS technology.
Sinterit recently introduced the Lisa 2 Pro, a benchtop 3D printer with a larger build volume, easy operation and new, intuitive software. The 3D printer is expected to begin shipping in September of this year.
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