Is SLA 3D Printing Future of Fashion Industry?
Designers, visionaries, and entrepreneurs are spearheading the movement that will result in some of the most innovative clothing and accessories to show up on runways (and eventually your home) in decades. Though there are still current limitations to how stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing can be used in the fashion industry — it’s safe to say that we are at the brink of a revolution.
SLA 3D printing is different than much of the the 3D printing already being put to use in the fashion industry. There are, in fact, three forms of 3D printing being used: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Selective laser sintering (SLS), and SLA. I love FDM for its potential to achieve zero-waste, but hate the imperfection of the 3D printing process faced when using it. An alternative that achieves higher quality “impossible” 3D pieces is SLS technology. However, it’s very resource-intensive and dirty. This leaves SLA 3D printing, which allows a designer to achieve the highest of quality with zero waste, as the clear future system for the fashion industry, especially because it also requires less human supervision. However, because the technology is relatively new, few fashion designers have put in the effort to understand its capabilities. At the 3D Printing Clothing Lab and Studio I run with my partner, we use large-format industrial SLA 3D printers as part of the first 3D printed clothing manufacturing model in the United States — if not the world. It was in this lab that I created a dress for New York Fashion Week 2018 with a base made from with the ahimsa silk organza fabric and a 3D pattern in flexible resin.
Though I am well-versed in all three forms of 3D printing, I find myself drawn to SLA technology, often experimenting with it. Not only exploring the potential of SLA 3D printing itself but imagining and creating prototypes of an ideal SLA 3D printer for clothing and accessories production. Though fashion designers are already elbows deep in exploring the potential of SLA 3D printing, it’s not quite economical — yet.