Fashion can be masculine or feminine, but it still tends to skew towards women’s styles. Is it because men aren’t as interested in expanding their wardrobes? Perhaps 3D printing will be the catalyst to get men more excited about their fashion choices, since it marries engineering with creative expression. Whether design teams are creating glasses from a single piece of nylon, unique men’s rings inspired by molten rock, or a new technique to extrude non-woven fabric, the science behind these designs is just as fascinating as the products themselves. Below, I’ve shared three recent developments that could change fashion for the better. I believe these options to be the coolest and most intriguing developments in fashion and style and I can’t wait to hear what you think.
When Amsterdam-based designer Maria Cichy and the FreshFiber team got together to work on a 3D-printed collection called “Volcanic Rock,” they wanted to use new technology to emulate our natural world. Taking advantage of adaptable printer materials, they created a textured nylon that looks just like cooled lava rock. This style would have been much harder to create via traditional means, but 3D design software allowed the team to make highly detailed crevices and cracks. Once they figured out the textured material, it wasn’t hard to envision it being used for phone cases, unique men’s rings, belt buckles, and other accessories. Although the design methods behind “Volcanic Rock” are fairly new, the collection has a timeless feel that looks to nature for inspiration.
The race to create the perfect set of 3D-printed eyeglasses is well underway, with famous designers and unknown upstarts getting in on the action. One of the more promising designs comes from Hong Kong company ITUM, which has funded their MONO eyeglass project using the Kickstarter-like website Indiegogo. Available in five styles, the MONO glasses are made using one piece of brushed nylon, which twists in a “DNA joint” hinge that allows the frame to bend. Right now, the frames aren’t custom-made to fit each wearer’s face — a feature that companies like PQ Eyewear have been touting with their products — but they do come in three different sizes and multiple frame/lens color combinations. These new forays into eyewear are stylish, ultra light, and more customizable than your typical pair.
Finally, the fashion world has seen plenty of 3D-printed designs over the past few years, but most of them haven’t been able to replicate the comfortable feel of fabric. Now, a small startup called Electroloom claims to have found the solution. Starting with a hard mold, the 3D printer sprays a liquid fiber across the entire clothing design, which then bonds together into a strong fabric. When it’s ready, the printed shirt, skirt, or hat can be removed from the mold, and it will have the same properties as cotton or polyester. Although this technology is in its infancy — the company is still in the process of getting funded — it’s a promising development for printed fabrics and the fashion industry.