threeASFOUR debuts new style of 3D printing directly onto fabric

Fashion label, threeASFOUR, who have pushed the limits of cutting-edge 3D printing practices with awe-inspiring garments in recent times, took the New York Fashion Week by storm again this week with their new Chro-Morpho collection that was created using a new style of 3D printing directly onto fabric.

While runways have seen their fair share of 3D printed garments, they were mostly entirely 3D printed or assembled with fabrics post-printing. One example was the OSCILLATION dress which was released two years ago.

3D printed OSCILLATION dress designed by threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch for New York Fashion Week 2017. (Photo: Ben Gabbe)

By 3D printing directly onto fabrics however, this creates a whole new world of opportunities especially when it comes to creating modern, functional wearables. Stratasys which pioneered the technique has high hopes that it will kick off 3D printing usage in the fashion industry starting with the Chro-Morpho collection.

The collection was inspired by the iridescent and microscopic colors created by light filtering through butterfly and insect wings and was created in collaboration with Stratasys and Travis Fitch.

“Within the next two years, I believe consumers will be able to purchase an array of 3D printed garments from high-fashion brands,” said Naomi Kaempfer, Stratasys Art, Design and Fashion Director. “And the result will be access to an explosion of unique color and texture combinations that are simply not possible through traditional methods.”

Greta-Oto dress that walked the threeASFOUR Runway Show during New York Fashion Week 2019. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/Getty Images for Style360)

Apart from the new 3D printing method, the collection was also an aesthetic revelation.

“We’ve created the skin-like illusion of switching shades and depth to portray the insect’s innate camouflage, color diversion, and luminosity,” explained Adi Gill, creative director of threeASFOUR. “With 3D design and printing, we’ve embodied the fragility and light wing movement of the butterfly. It’s a stunning display of nature, fashion, and technology.”

The Greta-Oto dress for one was made using a lenticular effect that was engineered by Stratasys. The dress comprised of 27 parts with thousands of 3D printed spherical, fish-scale sized cells that were directly printed onto polyester fabric. Each cell had a clear lens with a strip of color, and there would be changes in color with every movement.

“This approach, developed through months of collaboration and testing, was the only way to realize the designers’ vision. It brings the intricacy, nuance, and splendor of the dresses to life,” added Kaempfer. The dress was 3D printed with a multi-material, multi-color J750 and took 17 hours to complete.

Back view of the Greta-Oto dress that appeared at the threeASFOUR Runway Show during New York Fashion Week 2019. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/Getty Images for Style360)

The new style could also bring about logistical benefits.

The integration of a 3D printer could take the place of garment-making machines like 2D printing, embroidery, thermoforming, foiling, and more, and save precious time and money with a real-time supply chain.

“We are always looking to revolutionize manufacturing methods, pioneer new design options, and inspire designers and students to create without boundaries. Our mission is to change the way people think about design and to redefine what’s possible,” Kaempfer concluded.

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