Cirque du Soleil Uses 3D Printing To Help Them Design 18,000 Costumes Every Year

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The Cirque du Soleil creates 18,000 costumes every year in their workshops in Montreal, Canada, and they say that their designers are now using 3D printing technology to test out each fitting.

They say their designers once used casting to mold busts of performers, but they’re now using 3D printing and scanning to speed up the process.

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Costume designers use the scanners to create models of hundreds of actors, clowns and gymnasts, and then the company builds resin busts of the troupe for costume fittings. Cirque du Soleil say they’re constantly on the lookout for new materials or products to put in the hands of their patternmakers, textile designers and costume makers, and 3D printing technology is key to their operations.

In 2014 alone, the company says their costume workshop will use more than 65 kilometres of fabric from around the world and their team of milliners build the hats with the help of 3D prints obtained from scans of the performers.

Charles Décarie

Charles Décarie

Cirque du Soleil’s Chief Operating Officer, Charles Décarie, says innovation is key to keeping shows current at Cirque Du Soleil.

“We have over 150 million spectators in about 300 markets on five continents. Cirque Du Soleil was founded in rural Quebec about 30 years ago by what I would call a ragtag bunch of hippies without any business experience at the time,” Décarie says. “We had 73 employees, and now we employ and manage a payroll of 4,000 employees with 50 nationalities, speaking 25 languages – many of whom are in the road right now or in the air taking shows to audiences.”

Melisa_UrbanoThe  “Circus of the Sun” is the largest theatrical producer in the world, and it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix. Originally known as Les Échassiers (“The Waders”), they toured Quebec in 1980 as a performing troupe before finding their financial footing via a government grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Décarie says some 1,300 artists appear in Cirque du Soleil shows and that nearly 4,500 costumes in total are needed to outfit all the various show locations each night. The company’s use of 3D printing in costuming essentially began on New Year’s Eve, 2014, at LIGHT Nightclub, a venue owned by the creative team behind Cirque du Soleil, where the team launched new designs by renowned 3D printing fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht.

The shows at the LIGHT Nightclub combine cutting edge technology with current aesthetics, Wipprecht has worked on wearable electronics to enhance the Cirque du Soleil experience.

Last year’s event was the second collaboration between Wipprecht, Niccolo Casas and Materialise, and it combined the human body and technology with 3D printing. The 3D printed elements were laser sintered and included four independently-controlled shoulder pieces featuring strobe-effects with 20W high powered LEDs which were projected through the shape.

anouk

Have you seen any other examples of how 3D printing is being used by costume and clothing designers? Let us know in the Cirque du Soleil 3D Printing forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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