Academia and industry are joining forces to investigate personalised 3D printed apparel that can be manufactured within 24 hours.
This is the goal of Loughborough University, which has teamed up with the Yeh Group, a global textile and garment manufacturer, to embark on work in 3D textile printing that could fundamentally change how clothes and footwear are made.
The 18-month project – dubbed 3D Fashion – will see Dr Guy Bingham, senior lecturer in Product and Industrial Design, produce wearable, full size, Additive Manufacturing (AM) textile garments and footwear with design input from a major fashion house.
According to the University, advances in AM textiles have made it possible to produce 3D print ready-to-wear, net-shaped garments directly from raw material in a single manufacturing operation that doesn’t require garment finishing.
In use, the technology has the potential to reduce waste, labour costs and CO2e, and modernise clothing production by encouraging localised manufacturing and production.
The East Midlands institution adds that garment manufacture generates 1.8 million tonnes of waste material, or the equivalent of 70kg per UK household, with 6.3 billion m³ of water used in the process.
Dr Bingham said: “With 3D printing there is no limit to what you can build and it is this design freedom which makes the technology so exciting by bringing to life what was previously considered to be impossible.
“This landmark technology allows us as designers to innovate faster and create personalised, ready-to-wear fashion in a digital world with no geometrical constraints and almost zero waste material. We envisage that with further development of the technology, we could 3D print a garment within 24 hours.
“Printing clothes using AM will revolutionise the fashion industry worldwide by opening up digital manufacturing to the masses via online retail, bringing a much needed update to 19th century techniques and processes. This modern approach to clothing production helps meet the growing demand for personalised apparel and footwear which through 3D printing can be produced in a sustainable and ethical way.”