3D Fabric Printing Pen and Recycled Printed Garments: 3D Tech for Sustainable Fashion

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An interest in sustainable fashion doesn’t mean that you have to wear burlap or hold onto last year’s fashion. In fact, it may one day mean that all of your clothes are bespoke (leaving you to wonder how celebrities will be able to continue to make themselves look better than the rest of us). There has been a great deal of attention paid to sustainability in textiles over the last decade, including garments made from fabric that actually cleans the air as you wear it. However, it doesn’t end with the fabric as evidenced by some new ideas appearing at the intersection of fashion and 3D technology.

a5c39b69-93ef-4c99-bfc2-8efcab55e4ccThe Electrolux Design Lab competition this year has received another round of fantastic entries and several of the 35 finalists have addressed sustainability in apparel through innovating applications of 3D technology. While we have seen shoes that can be printed, these young designers have raised the bar by working on ideas that would range from repair to reproduction with 3D tech.

Two of the designs submitted are of particular interest in this area, one small enough to fit in a purse or pocket and the other the size of a freestanding wardrobe.

The Fabric Pen is the next generation of clothing repair kits, taking the place of the small sewing kits that sometimes come free with a hotel room. A wand sized device that allows you to scan the damaged portion of your clothes and then print a patch that is attached automatically to that area. The pen matches the color and mimics the fabric so that it blends in perfectly, leaving your garment intact to fight another day.

21This fabric repair pen was developed by Ingrida Kazėnaitė, a student at VDA Kaunas in Lithuania after she read about Fabrican, a spray on fabric in which cross-linking fibers adhere to form a non-woven fabric. Building on the idea of a unified fabric particle delivery system as a way of creating fabric and her interest in sustainability, she developed the Fabric Pen to harness advances in 3D tech as a way to reduce waste.

The larger of the innovations is Zero Waste : Always Trendy a system that allows a person to remake their old clothes into newer, trendier garments ready to wear and, thanks to a built in scanner, perfectly tailored for their body. As an added benefit, the machine would also take in your old clothes and use the materials to create the new outfits ordered.

1_main_picture1Zero Waste is the brainchild of Karolin Kõrge, an undergraduate student in the Department of Product Design at The Estonian Academy of Arts. She describes the motivation behind her idea:

“Nowadays, most of the people change their wardrobe more often than the actual lifetime of the clothes could allow. Who wouldn’t want to follow the fashion trends without making more and more waste? Zero waste – always trendy wardrobe system allows you to create new clothes out of your old garment as often as one would like. Just throw your old dress in and pick a new one you like! Easy way to take care of your wardrobe!”

Even if the Zero Waste wardrobe system never made it into every house, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine a retail environment in which this kind of production and/or recycling could occur.zerowaste_first-940x530

The next phase in the contest is a selection of six projects from among the 35 ideas that have made it to stage 3. In addition, you can vote for your favorite idea beginning August 12th and in November a People’s Choice winner and the Expert’s Choice winner will be announced.

All of the entries for this contest are in the conceptual phase and we may not be seeing any of them on the market any time soon, but they are, as with haute couture, pushing the boundaries of what currently is and waiting to be picked up and made sufficiently practical for the wo/man on the street.  Discuss these two 3D printing concepts within the 3D Fabric printing forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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