If you want to build wearables, you need to know how to sew, right? Maybe not. While we’re sure it would come in handy, [Drato] (also known as [RobotMama]) shows how she prints designs directly on a net-like fabric. You can see a video of the process below.
The video after the break shows an Ultimaker, but there’s really nothing particularly special about the printer. The trick is to print a few layers, pause, and then insert the fabric under the printer before resuming the print.
[Drato] holds the fabric down after inserting it, and mentions you can use glue to hold it down, too. We wondered if some bulldog or alligator clips might work. The only thing we worried about is if the fabric were made of some synthetic, it might not take hot plastic without melting.
[Drato] mentions she uses Organza, which is a sheer fabric often found on wedding gowns. However, she doesn’t mention if she is using the polyester, silk, or nylon type of the fabric. A little research shows that polyester and nylon fabrics melt at about 295 C. Silk was harder to track down, but since you can iron it on a medium setting, that might work, too. Of course, the temperature where it melts and the temperature where it just deforms beyond use might be different, so some experimentation is probably wise.
What really piqued our interest was the application to creating wearables without sewing. We’ll be curious what other applications you could find for printing directly on a fabric substrate.
Additive manufacturing is turned on its head with adaptive manufacturing in the case of 3D printed insoles by Wiivv Wearables. CEO and Co-founder, Shamil Hargovan, explains the mind blowing process that brings these custom fit orthotics to life through 3D printing with unique materials and marrying adaptive manufacturing techniques with traditional ones. We dive into how custom 3D printed products fit into the marketplace, where to put the price point at to stay and remain competitive, while also being profitable – even considering a hybird 3D printed final product for a mass customization market.
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Given that we are so particular about the things that we wear on our bodies, it makes sense that “wearables” is such a growing category in the 3D printing industry. What are wearables? Anything you wear on your body: clothing, jewelry, accessories — including eyewear. Materialise has announced five major eyewear projects in the past year, fashion collaborations, and other consumer products like hearing aids. Because the company has so much recent experience developing 3D printed products, it offers 5 tips for 3D printed Wearables in a recent blog post.
Aesthetics is the first area covered here, as it is important for your wearables to capture the design freedom of your product’s brand. Part of this freedom is making your wearables available in a wide variety of colors and finishes, since people are so particular about their tastes when customizing their own selections.
Next we focus on design issues, where thinking outside the box gets rewarded while certain considerations, like the material you decide to 3D print with, can also make a big impact on your design decisions. The example that Materialise gives here is the knitwear designer Hannah Evans, who explains that her designs changed when she considered 3D printing: “You can use materials that just aren’t physically possible on a knit machine, which completely expands the possibilities with knitwear.”
Your wearable products’ overall designs will be largely impacted by the possibilities presented by the technology — once you decide to produce 3D printed items in your business.
Innovation is also a key consideration here. While 3D printing is still a relatively new technology, it is gaining in popularity, and so innovation becomes the quality that will allow your own business to stand out among the others. However, some of us get swept away by the technology’s promise of eternal innovation, losing sight of the fact that these items will have to be used in a practical sense, too. Materialise provides the example of the Adidas Futurecraft shoe, which offers functional integration and better performance with its 3D printed midsole.
Of course, this list would not be complete without mentioning customization and personalization. These two qualities are probably the main reasons that people are attracted to 3D printed items in the first place. Wearables that can be customized, even “mass customized,” will become more common as people catch onto the benefits of having their exact fit and design needs met. Mass customization allows for a product that can be easily customized using tools that also allow the product to be made quickly and efficiently. Eyewear and insoles are a great example of this; the wearer’s measurements help craft high-quality products that fit like a glove. Usually people won’t go back to non-customized products once they have tried the 3D printed kind out: this is a good thing to keep in mind.
Finally, as the materials end of the 3D printing wearables sector gets more developed, performance and durability become increasing possibilities. Product materials need to be durable, perspiration-proof, UV-resistant, stain-resistant, and skin contact-safe. Materialise uses the Luxura brand as an example:
“For eyewear, jewelry and other wearable consumer products, skin contact will be a constant reality of the product’s usage. Exposure to a wearer’s skin can affect the product’s finish over time, potentially making colors less vibrant or surface treatments less effective. Environmental wear and tear is inevitable, but a good finish can reduce the surface porosity and protect it from changing colors due to UV light, or acquiring stains and marks.”
If you are interested in developing a 3D printed wearables product line, hopefully these considerations will help you incorporate aesthetics, design, innovation, customization, and performance into your business. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Wearables Tips from Materialise forum over at 3DPB.com.