3D printed fabric guru Bradley Rothenberg has already helped some of the worlds most interesting fashion designers create stunning clothing made from his wearable 3D printed fabrics, many of the designs seen at New York Fashion Week.
Rothenberg finds himself straddling the line between technology and fashion, where he needs to create textiles that can be used to wear actual clothing, but is hampered by the limitations of current technology and printing materials. But he has managed to not only bring the two together seamlessly, he’s also managed to create what is truly the next step in fabrics and textiles.
3D printed fabrics are a bit of a misnomer. While they behave very similarly to cloth, they are of course made of materials that are not traditionally used to make clothing. The fact that he’s turned materials like thermoplastic elastomer and thermoplastic polyurethane into wearable garments is amazing on its own, but the way that he does it is pretty incredible.
If you picture a chainlink fence then you can understand the basic concept behind Rothenberg’s fabrics. The textiles are made up of interlocking strands of 3D printed material that create a flexible mesh. The mesh can be printed in varying configurations, sizes and shapes, allowing the fabrics to move in different ways and to actually move with the human body not restrict it. Essentially, once the process is perfected, garments could theoretically be printed on demand to fit a person’s body.
I had an opportunity to speak to Rothenberg at the recent Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara show about his work:
Fashion designers are already lining up to work with his 3D printed materials, New York Fashion Week had not one but two designers put his work to good use. Katie Gallagher and Katya Leonovich both liberally used his 3D printed textiles in their collections to great effect. Both designers produced clothing that was completely wearable, as well as used his 3D printed details to enhance and accessorize other pieces.
These 3D printed fabrics are, of course, essentially in the prototype phase at the moment. Rothenberg is constantly working to create new meshes and experimenting with the material properties like opacity, flexibility and stretch. He’s also working on developing methods to create custom fabrics that can be grown around a specific shape, like say a 3D scan of a person’s body. Who needs a tailor when your clothing can literally be printed to fit your body exactly?
While there are still many years to go before you see 3D printed clothing being produced at any sort of mass scale, the textiles being developed by Rothenberg are clearly the future of clothing. You can find out more about Bradley Rothenberg’s innovative textiles on his website, and keep track of his new textiles on his blog.