ITW | 3D printing a wearable & washable fashion outfit

Everything you need to know about Anastasia Ruiz's collab with Sculpteo

She is still a young woman and she doesn’t realize quite yet of the novelty of her approach. Few in the fashion world have taken up the challenge of new creative possibilities offered by technology: 3D printed polymer, smart fabrics, micro-sensors… Well, Anastasia Ruiz, a young designer studying fashion at Esmod, did it (a collection announced at CES).

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Everything started with a contest organized by her school in partnership with the 3D printing company Sculpteo. The young woman applied, won, and the adventure began. Her project, which combines raw sketches and sharp patterns on Illustrator, shows that she has got the two main qualities of an innovator: curiosity and adaptability.

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Two qualities we decipher in her language when she broaches the collaboration with engineers:

«With the Sculpteo team we worked together from the conception to the final project. It was very interesting, because I come from a very creative background where we mainly use drawings, and there, I had to adapt my way of communicating my inspiration. First I did a sketch, then I reproduced the pattern on Illustrator in order for it to be sharper, then I made a 3D mock-up for a first visualization of my drawings. Working with open-minded engineers was a real opportunity because they quickly understood and helped me translating my creative ideas with the scientific knowledge and process” 

Or the motivation that encouraged her to engage in this project ” It was a real challenge, I like to create unique things, try new materials, I adapt myself to every new project, what keeps me interested is the exploration“.

Her modesty quickly fades to give way to her designer expertise, and we address the stakes of 3D printing.  She admits that she used the materials as an ornament standing for “a embroidery or an elaborate pattern” allowing to go deeper in the creation process. But, when we approach the subjects of 3D printing advantages, she mentions more down-to-earth subjects such as the prototyping facilitation.

“If we had to use a classical industrial process through traditional moulding, we would have needed a mold to create the pattern, which can cost around 10 000 euros. If we had made a mistake on that mold, in the sizing for example, it would become useless, and everything would need to be done again. But above this financial stake, traditional molding limits the complexity of our creation because patterns need to be removed from the pan without breaking, and it excludes any acute angles, thin parts, and too numerous empty parts. Even for traditionnal embroidery techniques, it would recquire at least three weeks of work and a dedicated team in order to realize an item such as the skirt. [With 3D printing] you don’t need any mold, your pattern is directly made layer after layer following the 3D file thanks to selective laser sintering or SLS. Of course their are design constraints, for example you need to keep a thickness equivalent to 100 microns, but you can substantiate what you want very quickly and without the costly stage of creating a mold.»

With these explanations, we easily understand how 3D printing can become a time, money and precision savior in the preindustrial creation process.

« It saved us a lot of time. With embroidery, it would have require at least one month of work. Regarding the precision, the relief and the work quality, I would never have gone so far without 3D printing.”

She adds that the weight of the prints, for the same esthetic result, are way less heavy than the embroideries.

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Following the footspteps of Danit Peleg, rather than those of Iris Van Herpen, Anastasia tried to create a ready-to-wear collection that would be wearable and washable, on top of being innovative. It investigates two tracks:

  • The first one is using a new material, the TPU, « the the most flexible material ever printed, that doesn’t break even if someone sits on it 300 times », she offsets that « TPU might be very flexible, it doesn’t break but prevent sitting , the pattern should be simplified to become thinner and finally making the outfit become wearable” »
  • The second track is the most effective, it explores the possibility of creating articulated dickeys in one piece thanks to 3D printing.This technic allows patterns that were impossible until now and above all « [it really adapts] to the shape of the body »which brings a great freedom of movement.

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when Anastasia concludes by evoking the sale prices of the items she created we understand that even for a ready-to-wear aesthetic, innovation is still expensive.

“Even if we are doing great things, we are still in a prototyping phase ». Modesty is the leitmotiv, « I am only discovering [the world of 3D printing], it kind of hit me, I worked hard on this project, but I am still not an expert”

because as for numerous other textile innovations, we are still in the very beginning of research and development, and the so-told experts are just curious minds with great talent backed by skillful engineers. Our only recommandation would be to multiply pioneers profiles,

“It would be interesting to have a 3D printer at school. They could invest in a FDM printer to help students apprehend technology. Because with SLS printers, for example, it would require a much more important investment and engineers to help students with 3D modeling and handling the printer. Then, there are development projects for SLS printers that would be more affordable, it could change the paradigm.”

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Now we only have to wait until fashion schools realize their own responsibility in innovation, by offering, for example, courses for 3D modeling and an access to these innovations. On this particular point, we advise you go check out La Fabrique, the fashion school of Paris Chamber of Commerce, where a Fablab just opened. The lab has its own 3D printer and other high tech machines for fashion creation (laser cutting, leather work…)

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