3D Printing

Dress made up of 1,600 pieces is 3D printed fully assembled

2nd March 2016
Enaie Azambuja

Massachusetts based generative design studio, Nervous System, has created a new Kinematics 3D printed dress, which will be debuted and exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston from March 6th to July 10th, 2016. The dress, which was inspired by natural elements such as petals, feathers, and scales, introduces a new dimension to the design studio’s previous work.

The dress uses Nervous System’s Kinematics textile technology—a system through which garments are 3D printed out of a flexible material as a single folded piece—only this time the designers have developed what they call a “new textile language” in which the interconnected elements of the dress are made up of small overlapping shell-like structures.

As explained on their website, “Petals protrude from the underlying framework of tessellated triangular panels, sheathing the body in a directional landscape of overlapping plumes. Each interlocking component of the dress is rigid, but, in aggregate, they behave as a continuous textile.”

Nervous System began working on the dress, their eighth kinematics dress, in July 2015, and used their in house Form 2 3D printer to prototype their new designs structural elements. “We want to extend Kinematics to allow for more variable creations,” explains the design studio. “Our initial idea was to create shell structures that would extend over each triangular piece that makes up a kinematics garment.”

The dress, like many 3D printed garments, is made to better fit its wearer through 3D scanning technologies which allow for the wearer’s figure to be digitally captured. The digital model of the dress can also be easily customised, by changing its length, shape, and excitingly even its directional flow through Nervous System’s design app, which allows its user to change the direction of the shell structures by the motion of your mouse over the dress.

The dress which will be part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s exhibition was 3D printed from a white nylon plastic material and was created by 3D printing service Shapeways using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). The dress’ bright red color was achieved by submerging the white nylon print into a bath of red dye, as the nylon material takes on color as easily as a synthetic material.

In their previous dress designs, Nervous System was able to create their Kinetic dresses using a single 3D print, with the dress design digitally folded and compressed to a size a 3D printer could accommodate. For their new Kinetics petal dress, they encountered some issues with this approach as their petal structure could not fold in more than one direction.

The dress, made up of 1,600 pieces interconnected by over 2,600 hinges, emerges from the 3D printer fully assembled and ready to wear. As Nervous System explains, “The overlapping nature of the shells makes it possible to have hidden snap-together connections. This allows for the creation of reconfigurable garments. In the case of our dress, we create a 3-in-1: your dress can be a top, a skirt or a dress.”

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