Alexis Walsh, a fashion designer from New York specializing in 3D printing, has unveiled her latest piece – the APEX Coat. Walsh’ newest piece, following a collaboration with designer Justin Hattendorf, features 3D printed studs that were created using generative design software.

Making its debut at the Harvard Identities Fashion show, the garment is also scheduled to be shown at Berlin Fashion Week, and in Barcelona and Helsinki.

Model Caroline Newton wearing the APEX coat. Photo by Juliana Werring.

Model Caroline Newton wearing the APEX coat. Photo by Juliana Werring.

Merging the old with the new

Walsh and Hattendorf used a simulation software which composed “infinite variations of points and strings of points,” which means none of the 3D printed studs on the APEX coat are alike. According to Walsh, she aimed to combine the traditional tailoring of the black coat with the stark contrast of modern digital design techniques.

The generative design software was used in combination with a manual mapping technique. Stud boundaries of the coat were mapped with pencil and paper before having them photographed and imported into the digital design software. According to Alexis Walsh, this meant,

Rather than determining the form by placing individual pieces, the random, asymmetrical placement of the stud clusters emerge out of the nuances of the pattern edges.

Alexis Walsh has also created an accessory based on the concept which shows how the 3D printed studs are attached with brass screws.

Alexis Walsh has also created an accessory based on the concept which shows how the 3D printed studs are attached with brass and screws.

3D printed embellishment 

The studs were printed on MakerBot 3D printers and the duo, Walsh and Hattendorf, enlisted New York bureau Voodoo Manufacturing with the task. Voodoo Manufacturing is a 3D printing bureau that has recently combined their small factory of 3D printers with a robotic arm to automate the production process.

The studs are 3D printed in a translucent material and then attached with brass threading and screws. Walsh explains this process allows the brass hardware to shine through “the cloudy, pearlescent surfaces of each stud, refracting light throughout the prisms.”

Rear view of the APEX coat.

Another view of the APEX coat.

Mass customization

3D printing enables the creation of complex intricate shapes like in the APEX coat, however the technology can also be used to create more functional wearables which is something Nora Toure, the founder of Women in 3D Printing, told us about recently in her article looking at the future of 3D printing. With promises of mass customization, global brands are also getting onboard as sportswear giant Adidas just unveiled plans to use 3D printing in their mass manufactured Futurecraft sneaker.

Alexis Walsh has previously had one of her 3D printed fashion pieces showcased on the catwalk at New York fashion week and has also designed for celebrity Lady Gaga.

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Featured image shows a close-up of the 3D printed studs. All photo by Juliana Werring via Alexis Walsh.  

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