3-D Printing and its potential to disrupt Fashion Industry
There is a lot of buzz around 3-D printing in the Fashion Industry. Some pioneering work has been done by designers like Iris Van Herpen or Designer Technologist Mary Huang led Continuum which allows designers to create and print 3-D printed dresses, shoes etc. Some other noteworthy efforts are being done by fashion tech company like Shapeways and entrepreneurs like Bryan Oknyansky via his venture Shoes by Bryan which allows you to 3-D print perfectly wearable heels wearing which you can chase the bus! We present our view on 3-D printing and its potential to disrupt Fashion Industry.
Some of the cool links to checkout to get updates about 3-D printing in Fashion Industry are –
However, it’s still a buzzword and not yet mainstream. Some of the pluses and minuses in my opinion of this technology and its potential to disrupt the fashion industry are as follows –
One of the biggest problems that fashion industry is grappling with is long product development lead times. In this era of fast fashion, online and digital shopping, most of the fashion brands are grappling with the problem of reducing lead time involved from conception to sampling to shop floor ready products. 3-D Printing holds immense potential to solve that big problem by allowing quick product iterations and prototyping.
Another important problem 3-D printing has the potential to solve is the issue of order minimums for sampling. With a 3-D printer you don’t need to cater to any sampling order minimums. You can just print even one piece. This holds huge cost saving potential for relieving the ever increasing downward pressure on prices in the fashion and apparel industry.
The flexibility and customization that’s possible using digital 3-D printing to create several versions of product iterations before doing the final prototype has a huge time and cost saving potential. When physically making samples using fabric and accessories, you can only create a limited number of product / color variations. With 3-D technology it becomes much easier and quick to do so.
Low set up barrier
Well you don’t need a factory with workers, sewing machines, production facilities to create prototypes and products when going 3-D. Even a single person / designer / entrepreneur could create his own prototypes / samples as long as he knows how to operate a 3-D printer and can own one. With 3-D printers available at reasonable costs by companies like Makerbot the entry barrier to set up your own full-fledged prototyping and sampling operations becomes quite simple and easy. No batch setting hassles, no minimums etc. All you need is a single 3-D printer!
Accessories present a huge opportunity to create and sell products using 3-D printing technology. Jewelry, Belts, Bags, Accessories etc. do not have issues that clothing presents, that of fitting, body contouring, draping, silhouette etc. With 3-D printing extending to not just plastic but also metals and even porcelain, the possibilities are endless. Designers could even play around with apparel accessories like buttons, zipper pullers, buckles etc. which in itself is a huge industry.
Material Constraints especially for Clothing