Friday, December 26, 2014

Folding, Fashion and 4D Printing

Kinematics Dress in Motion
Over the past year, 3D printed fashions have been showing up on the runways at major fashion events. Some of the creations have been stunning, but most are structured more like a ridged plastic cage than a comfortable garment.  They have also been complex to assemble after being printed as a set of small individual components to fit within the build area of the 3D printer.

Nervous System, a generative design studio based in Somerville, Massachusetts has developed a method to create a comfortable, full size, 4D printed dress in a single build. The first dress manufactured is so beautiful and revolutionary that it has been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of its permanent collection.

In 4D printing, the fourth dimension is change. It refers to the creation of 3D printed items that are intended to transform over time.  In the case of Nervous System, their method, which they call Kinematics, produces items with tens to thousands of unique components that interlock into dynamic mechanical structures.  Each individual component is rigid, but combined, they act as a continuous fabric. A large item, like a dress, can be printed as a single assembly and unfolded after removal from the printer.

Kinematics Dress Fabrication
The Kinematics dress was 3D printed using Selective Laser Sintering as a single piece in nylon. It consists of 2279 unique triangular panels interconnected by 3316 hinges. Over time, as the resolution of 3D printers increase, more components made from thinner and lighter materials will lead to 4D printed fabrics that increasingly lightweight and comfortable.

The implications of 4D printing go far beyond fashion. Skylar Tibbits, a Reseach Scientist in MIT's Department of Architecture is developing self assembling and programmable materials that can transform dramatically after removal from the printer.  Be sure to check out his TED talk in the video below.

Kinematics Dress by Nervous System - 3D Printed by Shapeways


4D Printing is the Future of Design

Skylar Tibbits: The emergence of "4D printing"

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