Fashion Technology Series

Hot Off the Printer

Moving 3D-printed fashion from the runway to the rack

Erin Winick Anthony
5 min readOct 18, 2017

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When the fashion industry began to accept 3D printing, it was primarily spotted on high-fashion runways as stiff, unmoving pieces placed on models. But as the technology has matured and become more refined, these wearable couture sculptures are beginning to share the stage with fashion that could be seen walking down the street.

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing has drastically expanded its capabilities in the past decade. Not just a tool for the home trinket creator, it continues to spur innovation in a variety of fields. Beyond the machinery and welding of the manufacturing floor, the fashion industry is continuing to push 3D printing’s artistic and consumer boundaries—and not just for prototyping, either. The technology is now being used to create final products that the general consumer can wear.

Although there are different processes of additive manufacturing, the basic concept is that it builds up the materials. Instead of starting with a larger block of material and removing portions until a final product is made, additive manufacturing creates objects one layer at a time. Through this, fashion is able to take on not just new types of intricate design, but also mass customization.

Fashion designer Danit Peleg was the first to bring 3D-printed clothing to the online shopper. Peleg designed a series of jackets that could be customized and purchased online. Instead of creating them from a typical hard 3D-printer plastic like polylactide (PLA), Peleg found success with FilaFlex. This material allows for more flexibility and motion than what’s found with PLA. The jacket’s exterior is 100 percent printed and has a fabric lining.

Peleg was also the first to create a 3D-printed runway line on her home 3D printers. Her five-look collection, called “Liberty Leading the People,” premiered in 2015. Peleg also created a 3D-printed dress for Amy Purdy, the headline dancer at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics Games.

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Erin Winick Anthony

Science Communicator and founder of STEAM Power Media. Former NASA, MIT. B.S. Mechanical engineering. Covering intersections of STEM and creativity.