3D Printing

Customised 3D Printed Bras Sound Good in Principle ….BUT ….

As you might imagine, I come across rather a lot of 3D printing stories on a daily basis. You really would imagine that I would be immune to extreme reactions by now, but one of the recent stories based on a not before seen application, made me really cross. I’ve spent a couple of days pondering it, to try and work out why.

The 3D printing application I am talking about is that of bras, proposed by Joyfit, a start-up company seeking funding via istart. I found myself really quite irate and wound up without a reasonable explanation. Was it an accumulative effect with the increasing nonsense stories around 3D printing at the moment or was it indignation at this specific story? I’ve come to the conclusion it was both, I think.

And yet I also had a sense of being unreasonable — bras are a personal undergarment, no big deal, and this concept is not that different from the bikini that I raved about when it first emerged a couple of years ago. I’ve seen that bikini a few times up close — it is lovely, a definite statement by the wearer that can afford it — but one thing it wouldn’t be is comfortable! And herein lies the crux of the matter, I believe.

Joyfit is predominantly using one 3D printing aspect as the premise for producing and offering the ultimate in bra comfort by virtue of the 3D printing process. The ideology of the personalization options that 3D printing offer is being taken to the nth degree with little apparent regard for the reality of 3D printing technology today.

In terms of comfort alone, 3D printing materials are not underwear ready IMHO. Beyond that though, they are probably not ready in terms of health and safety either. I would suggest having any current 3DP materials next to one’s skin for 12+ hours per day would not be ideal. I know I would certainly want some stringent assurances beforehand. It is not a complete oversight by the Joyfit team of four, which includes the CEO who has a Ph.D. in chemistry and six years experience working with biotech start-ups, as one of the stated risks is: “3D printing material comfort ability and compatibility.” For a concept that is selling itself on comfort, this strikes me as a bit more than a risk, it is a fundamental flaw.

Of course, the tools are available now to design the perfect fitting bra, (which incidentally, in this case, involves customers submitting images of their naked torsos online to produce the 3D digital models required to 3D print!!) but I would be so bold as to suggest the materials to make them — with 3D printing — are not. That does not mean this situation won’t change in the future, the pace of change in this industry suggests it could happen quickly but there is just so many “iffy” things with this business concept that I find myself reacting adversely to it. Not least with the iffy is the tone of the business proposal itself — it is heavily based on profit stating a RRP of $99 openly confirming this involves 70% profit. It comes off as avaricious and not a little bit naïve particularly when reading the goals and objectives, which can be found here.

There is much to commend in the ideology of this concept, including the longer term goal of integrating biosensors for diagnostic uses and the short term vision of bringing personalized comfort to women that are currently wearing the wrong size bra (estimated by Joyfit at 80–85%) and alleviating their stress, which sometimes includes severe neck and back pain.

But right now there is a huge chasm between the ideal and the real when it comes to 3D printed bras!