Thursday, November 5, 2015


We all notice how much technology is changing these last years. We cannot cross any social network without having articles popping up about how computers made a new change in the human world, and so making our lives so much easier. It’s so important we know it’s happening and we have to know what those electronical miracles can do to innovate all we already have. I’m currently studying applied information technology or applied informatics, and I know how important it is. You’re probably not here for my interest in computers, but I think I’ve got some interesting things for you too.

Now one thing I love is when my two passions are combined. I’ve been fascinated by informatics for a long time, I’ve always known I wanted to do something with it. Another thing I love is fashion, as you probably know, The Transparent Minds is also a fashion blog. I don’t think there are loads of people who love them both, but I guess it has changed. Technology from the highest level has reached the fashion industry! We all know about 3D printing, don’t we? But what has that to do with fashion?

We’ve all seen 3D printed dresses down on the runway, assembled out of a lot of pieces hanging together.  An example was the 3D printed dress from Dita von Teese, designed by Michael Schmidt . The dress was made out of 17 pieces attached to each other, printed by Shapeways in nylon and was dyed black.  Like the designs from Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, back in 2013. She used a printable fabric that could even be tossed in the washing machine. The only problem with that was that the fabric was a bit stiff, and thus not so wearable.

But now, the first fully 3D printed dress out of one single folded piece was made. Designed by Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg and made in the Shapeways Factory, New York, and the dress is completely wearable. It’s made of thousands of panels connected by hinge joints, fluidly folds and it adjusts to the body as you wear it. The designers and Shapeways just want to show how far they can go with the 3D printing and the printed dress definitely pushes up limits of what is possible in technology today. The designers had to watch closely of the dress was actually printable, because they only really had one shot. It took the dress a long 44 hours to print, because it was such a large print and it took a long build time.

They actually first had the idea to print something flat, to turn it into something three dimensional and something wearable. ‘Our first thought was that it would be amazing to produce something larger, like an entire dress,’ said Rozenkrantz, one of the designers, ‘We quickly realized that making an entire dress out of tons unique 8” panels that would have to be flattened for printing and then assembled was crazy.’ There would be so much work to realize what they wanted, at least they thought it would be until they came up with a greater idea. Instead of printing a lot of pieces, they would stimulate the movement in the computer so they could take something very large making  it flatter and more compact, to print it in 3D.

Let’s give you a more detailed view on how people can print things such as dresses and shoes in 3D. There’s a thing called additive manufacturing (click on the link for more information) , a technology that builds 3D objects by adding a layer upon a layer. Once a model of the object is made on the software on the computer, the additive manufacturing machine reads the data from the file and can successfully create the desired model. The material itself can vary from plastics to metals and ceramics. While everything is still evolving, new materials can be used for the process and everything is made even quicker than before.

One 3D printing technique is Stereolithography. The process itself begins with the blueprint you maken for the desired object. You make the computer-aided design file, and the printer uses that file to lay down thin micro layers. Liquid ultraviolet curable photopolymer “resin” and an ultraviolet laser then builds the layer one at a time. For every layer, the laser beam traces a cross-section of the pattern on the surface of the liquid resin. The exposure to the UV laser light solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and it fuses to the layer below it. After that, the platform drops a little bit and adds another layer of the resin on top of the layer, repeating the whole process.

Another one is Selective Laser Sintering, which uses a laser sinter powdered material. It aims the laser automatically at points defined by the 3D model, which binds the material together to create something solid. That laser scans cross sections generated from the file on the surface of a powder bed. The process repeats until the object is fully completed.  The Direct Metal Laser Sintering is similar as the process above, it only uses metal powders that are fused together to build an object. This process is great for difficult geometric designs that are difficult to create otherwise. Apart from those techniques, there are a lot of other ones.

3D printing gives us the opportunity to create, customize and repair products. We can create quick prototypes and change them to whatever we want. Nowadays the 3D printing industry is aiming at everyone all over the world, making it accessible to everyone. We can only cheer to that! What do you think about 3D printing? 


  1. Very informative Julie! What does this polymer feel like? Is it wearable?

    1. Thank you very much! The polymer is a plastic so it just feels like soft plastic. The plastics in the dress are wearable, that was the purpose of the whole project. It doesn't hurt when you sit on them and it doesn't irritate you when you move around!