Rapid prototyping and the rise of 3D printers is radically changing the way that the fashion industry operates. Prototyping used to be an expensive, time consuming side of product development, outsourced to a manufacturer. Now designers are doing it themselves – tweaks and new versions of a product are as simple as altering the design and pressing “print” again. The speed and customisability of this mean that not only can designers create prototypes for themselves, but unique and custom made products for their customers.
All of this is a brilliant development, not least in terms of sustainability. Instead of “Pile it High and Sell it Low – and Send the Leftovers to Landfill”, we’re looking at a future of clothing which is made to order, so nothing is made just in case it catches a consumer’s eye. This bespoke solution is made to a customer’s requirements, so it won’t be returned because it doesn’t meet expectations. It reduces overstocking and mass production. Companies are also looking at ways to close the loop and make sure that a product can be recycled at the end of its life.
Adidas is one company who has fully realised the potential of these technologies. With their FutureCraft shoes, they are committed to using only one type of plastic – recycled TPU. The shoe is created in one block, with no glue or other materials which means that it can very simply be recycled when it is no longer useful. Previous IFA Paris collaborator, The Future of Walking, has taken 3D printing and run with it to create their air-filtering shoes. The lining of their eco-conscious shoe can be adapted to each customer’s unique foot bed. UnMade is a software solution that allows a company to hold no stock but lets the customer to select their ideal colour and shape online, before the knitted garment is made to order.
In our makerspace inside Foundry powered by IFA Paris, we have the facilities to handle many kinds of rapid prototyping. We are proudly partnering with TG3D Studio and Bodi.me to offer easy and accurate laser body scanning for custom measurement purposes. The space is also stocked up with several kinds of 3D printers, laser cutters, different types of electronics, specialised software and all the other tools a designer needs to quickly produce a prototype for their own use, or a ready to be worn custom garment. We can’t wait to see what the Foundry users dream up.