Printing clothes at home: the innovative fashion collection by Danit Peleg

What if we tell you that you can print your own wardrobe at home using a 3D printer for home use? Until now, 3D printing has been used in the fashion industry mainly to create artistic accessories for collections like the ones by Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen and by Noa Raviv.

But nobody yet attempted to create a wearable fashion collection exclusively printed using home 3D printers. One brave 27-years-old fashion design student, Danit Peleg, went on a journey to find out how this goal can be achieved. In September 2014 she started working on her graduate collection for Shenkar College of Design in Israel. She needed to design a five-piece graduation collection. She decided to work with 3D printing, about which she knew almost anything. She wanted to check if it would be possible to create an entire garment using technology available to anyone. “So I embarked on my 3D printing journey, without really knowing what the final result would have been“, says Danit. She started by contacting local experts on 3D printing to find out what machines, materials and softwares could be used to design clothes. The first piece she focused on was the “LIBERTE” jacket.I modeled it using a software called Blender, and produced 3D files. I could now start to experiment with different materials and printers“, says Danit.

Luckily she wasn’t alone during her journey. Together with teams from TechFactoryPlus and XLN, she experimented with different printers (Makerbot, Prusa, and finally Witbox) and materials (e.g. PLA, soft PLA). After a month spent on experimenting with PLA, she realized that wasn’t getting so far because of the material’s rigidity. She was looking for flexibility, key feature of a “real textile”. So she had to look for a different solution: “the breakthrough came when I was introduced to FilaFlex, which is a new kind of filament, strong, yet very flexible. Using FilaFlex and the Witbox printer, I was finally able to print my red jacket.” But, she didn’t stop there. She knew that she needed to find more elaborated textiles for the rest of the collection and continued in researching and experimenting with different type of patterns. She found Andreas Bastian‘s Mesostructured Cellular Materials. “By combining his incredible structures (and new ones I created with the same approach) and the flexible materials, I was able to create lace-like textiles to work with – just like cloth“, says Danit. If we break it down into numbers, the entire collection was designed and produced over a nine month period, with 3D printers running for about 2,000 hours (every A4-sized sheet of textile took at least 20 hours to be printed). In order to accelerate the process, she had to use more printers. Soon her home began to look like a 3D printing farm. She had to print piece by piece assembling them all together only at a later stage. The process was extremely time-consuming (some pieces took more than 300 hours to be created) and therefore very expensive.

To give you an example, the red “LIBERTÉ” jacket, explains Danit, took 220 hours to be printed and about a kilo of materials that costed 70 euros. But the main issue was the printing time – and to face it one would need to buy or rent a printer for 220 hours. “A printer of the type I used costs 1,700 euros. Renting it would have meant paying circa 250 euros per week, so I would have payed it at least 600 euros for printing, design, assembly, and electricity not included. The whole process is still a costly operation, but of course this will change as technologies evolve”. Although the technology is time-consuming and still limited, the designer created all without any intermediaries. She took care of both design and manufacture at her own home. She even created 3D printed shoes for the runway show. “I wanted the models to wear 100% 3d-printed materials“. The results of this one of a kind project can be seen in the YouTube clip. This amazing collection is pushing the limits and proves us that 3D printing of wearable fashion can happen. As for the future, we will have to wait and see what new technological solutions will bring us closer to the day we can print our own wardrobe at home. We will continue following Danit while she travels the world showing her innovative collection, and see what’s next for her.

Photo credits: Daria Ratiner

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