Young-A Lee, PhD, MA
Professor and Graduate Program Officer, Department of Consumer and Design Sciences
In the current digital transformation era with the emphasis on consumers’ personalization through design, 3D printing, an innovative manufacturing method, has attracted much attention from various industries including fashion. Previous studies have explored the potential use of 3D printing and its materials in wearables’ design and the differences between 3D printed textiles and traditional fabrics. The majority of 3D printed garments were created through selective laser sintering with Nylon or fused deposition modeling (FDM) with other rigid filaments. Most 3D printed wearables were composed of rigid hinge-joint interfaces or interlocked chainmail, leading to relatively low flexibility compared to apparel made of traditional fabrics. Although designers started to adopt flexible 3D printing materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) in wearables’ design, it has been only used in a small section of the wearables (e.g., bra, gloves). Creative design scholarship on 3D printing with flexible materials for wearables’ design is still limited. Thus, the designers challenged to develop 3D printed dress that is wearable with high flexibility and fulfills wearers’ functional (e.g., comfort, mobility, ease of donning and doffing), expressive, and aesthetic needs. For this textile innovation challenge, incorporating various design technologies (3D printing, CLO, and Rhino), the flowy dress, Bouncing with 3D Printed Soft Cells, was proposed using the FDM method of 3D printing with TPU materials. The dress was consisted of 88 soft cell panels with various shapes and sizes, which were inspired by the human’s biological cells. Fabrics were developed as mesh-like 3D printed textiles with high flexibility and a lightweight, which allow the dress to be stretched in multiple directions. The flared dress with a simple silhouette was perfect for experimenting with drapes and flows of 3D printed textiles on the human body. By utilizing various design technologies (Rhino, CLO, and 3D printer), this dress was experimented with 100% of 3D printed panels without using any traditional fabrics. The dress is a true reflection of the diffusion of technological innovation and showcases the potential of using the FDM method of 3D printing with TPU filaments for wearable apparel design.