3D printed panties on the way

A fashion student has launched a new line of 3D printed lingerie that will give women perfect fitting panties that don’t sag over time.

Jess Haughton’s created the line as part of her final year project at Nottingham Trent University. Her creations have gone on show at the 2016 Art & Design Degree Show that launched yesterday and will close on June 11th.

Knicker elastic has done an admirable job for decades. But it degrades, loses its stretch over time and eventually the mis-shapen underwear has to be thrown away purely because the elastic has given way.

Silicone lasts longer than elastic

Haughton has replaced the traditional material with 3D printed silicone that gives the garment a cleaner finish and is much more resistant to fatigue. It can be printed directly on to fabric and the structure of a garment can be integrated into the overall design.

Silicone is arguably a modern day replacement for old-fashioned lace and the added support it offers opens up a world of opportunities for designers.

“Stretch silicone is amazing to work with and could really change the way lingerie is made,” said Jess. “It’s very strong and flexible when cured, and is practically impossible to unstick. It also has an amazing feel to it. When it’s 3D printed, it can create more intricate detailing than traditional methods.

“In many ways, when printed onto sheer mesh as a floral pattern, it’s like a modern alternative to lace.”

3d printed underwear from Jess Haughton, including this bodysuit
@ Jason Arber

What is in the collection?

Haughton produced a range that included a stretch bodysuit and a halter bra with a silicone pattern printed on sheer mesh. Other highlights of the collection included a sheer mesh thong and a leather harness, which is stretching the concept of lingerie slightly.

While Haughton created her initial line by measuring her models the old-fashioned way, she is already looking into offering bespoke lingerie. Customers can already input their precise measurements into an online system and we’re not far away from the technology that will turn our smartphones into effective 3D scanners that can feed in perfect measurements.

3D printing can offer a bespoke level of service that traditional manufacturing just cannot match. Haughton’s line is just the start as there is no reason why we can’t have bespoke underwear that isn’t just tailored, it can come with a monogram or our own unique details.

The start of a great fashion career?

Emma Prince, senior lecturer in fashion design at the School of Art & Design, said: “Jess has showed real innovation in developing her range of products and has developed her knowledge of this new technology which she can expand upon when she leaves university and pursues her career.

“It’s a great illustration of how modern technology can change the way clothing is made. This can lead to improvements in the performance of garments, their fit and their market appeal.”

A new dawn in material science?

So the next generation of underwear could last longer, fit better and of course we’re at the start of a great adventure in material science.

Smart clothing is in its infancy and other companies are starting to experiment with the likes of Graphene. There’s potentially a real market for underwear and sportswear that keeps us fresh and completely dry all day long.

If 3D printing takes over the underwear market then we will need to produce alternatives to the classic materials in any case.

We’ll keep an eye on Haughton and her peers, because underwear could be just the start of a multi-layered, 3D printed clothing revolution.

More on this topicHigh fashion meets 3D printing