The role of 3D printing in the fashion industry

It was in the 1930’s that the International Woolmark Prize was instituted by an NGO, Non Governmental Organisation, in collaboration with wool manufacturers. This was done in a bid to not just bring to light the innovations made in woolen fabrics so as to encourage designers but also to give a boost to the demand for the fabric around the world.

Designers of the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld become popular after winning this prize. It is really interesting to note the way in which these competitions have motivated designers and led to innovations in the garment industry. These competitions have also led to many more innovative developers emerging in the world of 3D printing.

Talking about 3D printing, it has been i.Materialise that has thrown up the most challenges for designers. This printing service has been responsible for bringing new and talented 3D designers to the forefront. The service has organised competitions such as Metal Accessories Challenge, 3D Printing Challenge, Jewellery Design Challenge and the Bead Design Challenge. The media interest and the recognition at fashion shows for the winning designs have made these competitions very important.

Shapeways is another printing service and platform that organises several competitions. Of these, the most popular is the contest for iPhone accessories. However, this is about as far as companies and services like Shapeways and i.Materialise can go.

A more concerted and organised collaborative effort by the industry is now well overdue. Such a collaboration would be able to promote the manufacturing industry in a much better manner. This kind of association would also help in increasing the quality of the products. Perhaps the industry can introduce annual competitions with higher prize money that would be invaluable in finding new designing talents. Such a step would bring 3D printing to the limelight in the fashion world.