Is 3D Printed Clothing the Future of Fashion?

Imagine this – you have an upcoming dinner event with nothing to wear. You forget until the night before. Instead of last-minute panic shopping, you open your computer and search for the perfect digital clothing file. After downloading a cute dress, you load up your 3D printer with your material and desired color. It prints your dress to your exact measurements, within 24 hours.

This isn’t just a fantasy. There are quite a few innovations bringing us closer to a future where 3D printed clothing is the norm. Plus, many large brands are already incorporating this waste-free technology into their manufacturing practices.

Want to learn more? Check out our infographic below to learn more about the sustainability, top innovators, how 3D technologies are currently being used, and its fashion-related potential in the near future.

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3D Knitting vs 3D Printing

Another technology that’s becoming more widely used is 3D knitting. Since these similar terms often get confused, we wanted to help clear the air – 3D printing and 3D knitting are two different things.

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3D Knitting

These machines essentially automate the regular knitting process. While industrial knitting machines have been around for decades, new digital machines allow you to send files for it to automatically knit. Previously, machines were very expensive and only used by large companies. However, companies (such as Kniterate) are bringing this technology into everyday households.

Many current-day brands are utilizing 3D knitting to help minimize waste. Take Ministry of Supply, an affordable businesswear brand that combines 3D knitting and 3D printing in one of their collections.

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3D Printing

These machines work by heating up certain materials, then forming objects layer-by-layer. Most current materials are various forms of plastic or metal.

What the Future Looks Like

The lack of clothing-like material is the only current roadblock to 3D printed fashion. It will be much more widely used once more comfortable materials are created (there are many working on this, with frequent improvements).

Regardless, the technology is being embraced in today’s world. You can find 3D printing being used in futuristic runway styles, costume design, furniture, everyday accessories, and even by big brands for small components (such as shoe brands).