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Wednesday, February 3rd  2016

Until now, attempts at creating 3D wearables has not met much success. The result has been pieces that were too rigid and needed assembly. This may be changing now with the development of a new design that produces a one-piece dress that not only is wearable but also aesthetically pleasing.

The dress, called the Kinematic dress, is the product of a team based in Massachusetts, all graduates of MIT. This team consists of Jesse Louis-Rosenberg and Jessica Rosenkrantz and call themselves Nervous System. The dress they produced using 3D printing could be an indicator of a revolution in fashion manufacturing.

This first dress was printed at Shapeways 3D printing in New York City and took 44 hours to print. The process used is called Selective Laser Sintering. A non-toxic plastic was used to create the dress of 2279 triangular interlocking panels with 3316 hinges linking them together. The hinges are what allow the dress to move more like one made of traditional fabric.

The idea for this dress had an unusual beginning. A collaboration with Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects in 2012 had the goal of designing software to quickly create customized 3D products for mobile devices. Experiments continued with creating flat shapes of geometrical design that were foldable and could be expanded into other forms. The Kinematic dress was the end result.

Work continues to develop other ways to link the tiny panels so the "fabric" will have different textures and properties. Among the fabrics the team is looking into creating fabric that stretches in some places but remains rigid in others. At this time, they are not working to make these fabrics for warmth though. In the meantime, it is possible to experiment with dress, skirt and top designs using their online Kinematics Cloth app and save it.

The Kinematic dress made a big enough impression on the New York Museum of Modern Art, which bought the dress along with the software that created it for its Architecture & Design collection. As yet, no date to display their new addition has been set.

Rosenkrantz has said that the ordering option could be turned on for ordering modest priced and sized products such as belts and mini-skirts. Customers can expect turnaround times to be longer than products already available for ordering, which will be about four weeks. Since it is important that the fit and style be customized, they will be bespoke.

The ability to create fashionable, wearable 3D printed clothing, the future of fashion is changing to include a new medium. From the looks of this breakthrough in wearable 3D printing, it appears there will be a place for fashion coding in the future.

The author of this post is Dione Bledsoe. She's a fashion recruiter and the founder at Find The Fit Inc. Her company conducts global executive search tailored to fashion retail and wholesale. From startup to Fortune 500s, they have placed senior level positions for companies like Tory Burch, American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and more..

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