How is 3D Printing Changing Fashion Design?

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Over the past five years, 3D printing has changed and continued to advance quickly. The low-volume tooling and fixtures used in industrial manufacturing are assisting in the development of finished goods that are ultimately far more affordable than the methods that were previously employed.

MarketsandMarkets recently predicted that the worldwide 3D printing market would expand by 22.5% each year. When many of these 3D printing businesses produced PPE parts during the epidemic, the technology’s efficacy was demonstrated.

How will 3D printing affect fashion design? This article explains how various product categories will benefit from 3D printing in 2022, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

Applications of 3D Printing in the Fashion Industry

In a more practical setting, we employ 3D printing in fashion to develop prototypes and manufacturing equipment, advance sustainability initiatives, and increase customizability.

Fashion accessories: In the fashion world, 3D printers add details, such as decorations, accessories, and buttons, to existing designs rather than manufacturing entire garments.

Using 3D printing, small end-use accessories can be quickly and easily put together. TPU is one example of a flexible material utilized to add accent pieces or distinctive embellishments to clothing. Costume jewelry with intricate geometric designs can also benefit from 3D printing.

Tooling and prototyping: Professional 3D printers are commonly used to create prototypes and tools for manufacturing, and the fashion industry is no exception.

For each new shoe collection that Camper, a well-known Spanish shoe manufacturer, develops, BCN3D printers are used to make prototypes and concept models. These models were previously produced by outsourcing, which increased expenses and lengthened the overall design process. Now that they have numerous 3D printers, their designers can have a much clearer idea of the volumes and shapes of their creations.

The capacity to swiftly evaluate the viability of a concept is another benefit of 3D printers that encourages designers to take more risks. This method of prototyping various design iterations gives designers more time and freedom to create fresh, cutting-edge concepts.

The creation of tools that will aid in the fabrication of the finished accessory or garment is a practical use for 3D printers. For instance, the well-known high-fashion brand Louis Vuitton employs 3D printing to create technologies that assure the production of their final items is done quickly and elegantly.

Sustainability: As more firms and designers start looking for sustainable ways to manufacture their collections, 3D printing technology in the fashion industry is also gaining traction for sustainable fashion.

The cutting-edge Spanish clothing line ZER is a fantastic illustration of this. As a way to be a sustainable force in the fashion business, they use additive manufacturing in every step of their design and production processes.

They develop their unique patterns using 3D printers and print only the necessary quantity of the final product. This enables them to reduce resource waste for each garment and guarantee that their production method is not hazardous to the environment.

The use of 3D printers is beneficial to viable fashion initiatives since they allow for the reuse and recycling of materials. Additionally, ZER is making this effort, which may be intriguing for a wide range of firms trying to step up their environmental initiatives.

Customization: Finally, 3D printing in the fashion industry gives up new avenues for customization. Brands can start manufacturing products depending on their unique needs.

Advantages of 3D Printing in Fashion Design

Availability: Making garments on demand using 3D printing is far less complicated. Because it must be tailored to fit your body, designer apparel is costly and labor-intensive to make. A design that is 3D printed is less expensive and produced more quickly. The rapid development of prototypes made possible by 3D printing makes clothing more accessible to consumers.

Sustainable: The additive printing process reduces waste since it adds the materials directly to the fabric, eliminating waste during fabric processing and design. For instance, designers must cut and shape the materials used in traditional manufacturing, resulting in fabric cut-offs and scraps. The production of industrial smoke during the conventional fabric-making process also pollutes the air, and dyes used in the process cause water contamination. Additive manufacturing significantly reduces this pollution.

Agile production: 3D printed clothing enables quicker innovation from designers. Minimizing the need to order prototypes from outside vendors helps save time. Regardless of how complex the design is, 3D printing allows for the speedy creation of prototypes with CAD software. As a result, the product is created more quickly, and designers have the opportunity to use their time and money more effectively.

Disadvantages of 3D Printing in Fashion Design

New technology usually has drawbacks, and 3D printing in the fashion industry is no exception.

Technological immaturity: The fashion industry is still extremely new to technology. In terms of mass production and curing, there is still much to learn.

Copyright: The fashion business is susceptible to design file piracy, just like the music and movie industries. NFTs and copyright regulations for digital assets are rising; this issue might be resolved soon.

New economic model: The increase in 3D printing may also be related to employment losses in the fashion manufacturing industry. While some manufacturing jobs will disappear, new employment opportunities will arise. The business model of huge factories producing container loads of fashion products might expire soon as people start printing garments at home and businesses start making items in tiny batches for certain seasons. As a result, employment losses could occur in some regions of the world if machines replace human labor.

Quality assurance: The quality of the designs may be impacted if users plan to print their own personal products at home.

The Difficulties of Implementing 3D Printing in the Fashion Design

A lack of fashion-oriented printers:

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3D Printing Technology in Fashion Industry: Image Source: textilelearner.net

Material availability for clothing seems to be a serious issue with 3D printers. Due to their non-fashion-friendly nature, many luxury and non-luxury companies find it difficult to use this form of manufacturing.

Many of these problems could be resolved by customizing these printers to support 3D fashion printing, but the market is currently small.

Protecting the rights to intellectual property:

Preserving intellectual property rights is another difficulty for the fashion industry when using 3D printing. If customers find themselves in possession of either illicit or legitimate copies of a CAD file as 3D printers become more accessible for personal use, there may be an increase in digital counterfeiting. It implies that many fashion companies must invest in enhancing and safeguarding 3D products.

As with any production and technology, 3D printing in high-end clothing will continue, and advancements and improvements will be made as time goes on. 

Best 3D Fashion Design Software: SelfCAD

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Someone working on SelfCAD: Image Source: 3dnatives.com

SelfCAD is a 3D model maker useful in creating fashion designs. Small model components can be designed very precisely using this software. This adaptable 3D graphic fashion design program may be used to create any type of clothing.

Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, SelfCAD is for you. This fashion design software’s capacity to generate 3D printed models from scanned images of the product is one of its unique advantages. A simple way to accomplish this is to use the software’s reference photo tool to import objects, trace around them using freehand drawing and sketching tools, and then convert the sketches into a 3D model. 

Conclusion:

Although 3D printing in fashion design is still developing, it has the potential to grow. You can create custom-fit shoes, glasses, and clothing for each individual using 3D scanning. However, as 3D printing from various materials rapidly evolves, it is currently more appropriate for accessories. In the future, we may be able to print garments at home by simply purchasing and downloading the design!

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