AMS Spring 2023

This 3D Printed ‘Hydroshift Top’ Symbolizes Water as Energy

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The XYZ family

The ‘Hydroshift Top’ brings together the elements of fluidity in nature, tradition, art, and the unlimited potential offered by 3D printing — even from the desktop. Artists and designers these days are very lucky to have the tools offered by 3D printing that allow them to take a broad theme such as the electrolysis of water and have seemingly few boundaries in expressing themselves — especially in fashion.

Recently, Kae Woei Lim and Elena Low, of XYZ Workshop in Melbourne, Australia, had the privilege of winning the top prize in a Singapore International Fashion 3D Printing Competition, organized by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, which challenged entrants to mix 3D printing with fashion that exhibited ‘sustainability,’ with water as inspiration. This is the same team who in January had a 3D printed dress that was featured on the Discovery Channel with the appropriate series title, “How Did They Do That?” For this project, however, they focused on the transient nature of water molecules.

The husband and wife team is made up of two architects with a passion for experimenting with 3D printing. While Kae Woei brings a great deal of digital expertise to their ongoing projects, Elena — with her background in architecture, jewelry making, and textiles — enjoys the combination of technology with handmade items. The dynamic duo was able make an intricate design — based on their interest in harvesting clean energy from water — with a fairly simple 3D printer, and a great deal of ingenuity.

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The piece was made out of flexible polylactic acid with a conceptual focus on electrolysis of water, where electrical currents are used to make water into oxygen and hydrogen. The architects worked to imbue a sense of this clean energy process in their 3D printed top, which is like a mixture of a bodice and a snug piece of quite feminine armor. Symbolizing the chemistry of turning water into hydrogen, the 3D printed fashion piece connects solidity with airy, transparent segments that in an extremely creative touch are also reminiscent of old-fashioned, traditional Chinese ‘cheongsam,’ which is a form-fitted dress created in the 1920s and worn by upper-class Chinese women.

The team used a mannequin for their 3D scanned shape. With a Kinect Sensor they were able to create a point cloud to make the mesh from which they tailored their geometric patterns — in Rhino. This award-winning project is not something that a novice or anyone faint of heart would want to take on as it involved 170 hours of 3D printing, and they made it in 26 separate sections. While indeed the XYZ Workshop artistry is an example of what you can do with a smaller 3D printer, it’s certainly also a testament to not only their fashion design finesse but also their mastery of the technology of 3D printing.one

Both Kae Woei and Elena, who founded XYZ in 2013, are passionate not only about working with 3D printing in their studio but as new parents and members of the community, they want to pass on their knowledge and fulfillment in ‘making’ to others, and especially the younger generation. They have plans to expand XYZ Workshop into a creative hub for “creative enterprises and a teaching platform for 3D printing technology” for all ages and different types of users.

Is the combination of 3D printing and fashion of particular interest to you, and if so, what do you think of it in combination with the symbolism of nature, energy, and tradition? Have you made any fashion pieces with 3D printing or do you plan on doing so? Tell us your thoughts in the 3D Printed Hydroshift Top forum thread over at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below for a closer look at the piece.

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