Often fashion on the runways looks good but is unwearable in a real-life setting, and that goes double for 3D printed fashion. Much of it is stiff and uncomfortable-looking, but some designers are incorporating the technology in a way that is both attractive and wearable. Lingxiao Luo of the Royal College of Art is one of those designers. Her work combines 3D printing with knitted fabric to create brightly colored, unique garments that feature 3D printed details and unusual seams.
Luo is pursuing a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art, but she first learned about 3D printing as an undergraduate at the London College of Fashion. The pieces she saw combined 3D printing with mesh fabric, and she began to think about the possibility of knitted fabric combined with 3D printing. She bought her own 3D printer and set about developing her own techniques for melding the two methods of fabrication. She came up with three different techniques, in fact. The first is to use 3D printed patterns to join two different fabrics together, while the second is to print onto loosely knit nature-fiber fabric and felt the fabric afterwards “so that the contraction during the felting process can change the printed patterns and create 3D structure,” she explains. The third technique involves using a flexible filament to print onto tightly knitted elastic fabric and twist the printed patterns into a 3D structure.
“The techniques that I have investigated are unique, and the products made with my techniques have unique aesthetic and texture,” Luo says. “They’re much more playful and structural than traditional knitwear.”
She also says that her designs are “less plastic-like” and “much more wearable” than a lot of other 3D printed fashion, and they can also be easily washed and cared for, as any other clothing. She wants to appeal to consumers with both the aesthetic and user-friendliness of her designs, as well as the customization possibilities.
“With the engineering of knitting and printing, this innovation introduces a zero-waste fabrication to the fashion industry through the creation of customizable products,” she says.
Luo eventually hopes to work with a 3D printer company to develop fashion-specific 3D printers that can print wearable, consumer-friendly clothing. She plans to start her own business, as well.
“Based on this technique and my final collection, I’m planning to build up a business of providing high-end products and services for the designer studios, including technical consultancy, sample making, textile, and product developing,” she says. “My market research shows that the application of 3D printing technology in the fashion industry is developing very quickly, and the design studios I have interviewed showed strong interest in using my technique and products in their collections.”
So look for Luo’s work in the near future; if you’re interested in trying 3D printed clothing, hers is definitely a good place to start, with its wearability and aesthetic appeal. Some 3D printed fashion looks great, but as a gallery piece – Luo’s is well-suited to both the runway and the closet.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Source: Design News/Images: Royal College of Art]
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