From Print to Pretty: 3D Printing in Fashion

Imagine an article of clothing so beautiful it gets displayed in a museum rather than on a person. For Simone Leonelli, an Italian designer based in Australia, blurring the lines between fashion, art, and technology has always been a passion of his. With a little bit of tech-savviness and a lot of creativity, his vision for fashion was able to come to life with the help of 3D printing. Yes, printing.

Through computational design and “high-tech tools”, Leonelli used a desktop 3D printer to create a dress, a pair of shoes, and a bag. The results were unique skeleton-inspired pieces that were featured at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), as part of their 3D printed fashion exhibition.

Leonelli told 3D Print: “The designs have been inspired by biological structures such as mineral cell skeletons and the complexities were created with the help of computational design processes”. So, using both software and hardware, the designer replicated themes of cell skeletons like Radiolarians and Diatoms (a type of algae, and yes, it does look more beautiful than it sounds), emulating the beauty of the sea. Had he used traditional methods of manufacturing, the end result wouldn’t be nearly as intricate and complex, as the 3D printer has a way of producing shapes that standard milling and injection molding cannot do.

With sustainability as one of his main priorities, Leonelli used biodegradable PLA — a bioactive and renewable thermoplastic. In fact, the majority of the materials used in his designs are 100% recyclable plastic.

And this isn’t the first time 3D printing has proven to be resourceful. In the past, printing has been used for anything from prosthetics to car parts, and only recently has it become apparent that the fashion industry could benefit greatly from the invention.

Leonelli’s pieces were appropriately part of PICA’s “Blurred Boundaries” exhibition, an event held with the intention of exploring fashion through technology and other forms of design. The designs were created to be seen as architecture and experimentation, but we’re hoping it’s only a matter of time until we can take 3D printing from art exhibits to everyday wear.

We are also very curious as to how the intellectual property rights will play out with this new technology in fashion.

Information Gathered From: 3D Print


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