3D Printed Neckpiece Documentation


Second semester 1-Year Fashion Design students at the Fashion Institute of Technology create an exhibition garment based on a theme chosen. The AAS Exhibition Show displays the garments that were selected from that year’s graduating class. My class’ theme was ‘Mad Max meets the French Court’, which combined Post-apocolyptic grunge with Parisian frivolity. One of my instructors had advised the students to work within their range of skill or “Stick to what you know”. Since my background is in 3D modeling and animation, I focused on incorporating a 3D printed element into my garment.

After sketching 25 design ideas, I narrowed them down to 5 choices and presented them to our class critic. Our critic was a designer for Victoria’s Secret, her eye for detail and knowledge of technique supported us tremendously throughout the process. She selected the design above (with a few alterations) because she felt it’s combination of swatches and trims were the strongest.

 I purchased 1.5  yards of green silk lame from B&J, 4  yards of black moire from Elegant, and 1 yard of black feather trim (not shown) from Mood Fabrics.

To begin creating the dress itself, I experimented with style lines on the dressform to visualize how the concept would look in reality. There was much hesitation on whether or not to drape the two yokes on bias, but I decided against it due to the visible warp of the green lame.

After the half muslin bodice was draped, I photographed the muslin, mirrored it, and superimposed the digital 3D model I had begun working on in AutoDesk Maya. The muslin garment and the 3D model were continuously composited together and adjusted separately until the proportions of both suited each other.

When presenting the half muslin dress, style tape was used to imply where the 3D model would sit on the form. Following the muslin’s approval, I created a pattern from it and began constructing the garment. A french lining bodice was included to support the structure of the dress. 2.5 yards of the black moire fabric were sent to be pressed into a sunburst box-pleat at International Pleating.

While sewing the dress during lab hours, I worked on the 3D model outside of class. Using AutoDesk Maya, I created a size 6 dressform model based on orthographic photos of my mannequin at FIT. From there, the neckpiece was modeled along the form and then split up into 14 pieces. The PrintFX Lab at FIT offered 3D printing services through a Uprint Stratasys Machine that had a 6″ x 8″ x 6″ printing bed.

The 3D model was exported as an OBJ file from Maya and then converted into an STL file in Netfabb Basic. I also used this program to resize each piece to its life size measurements. While the x, y, and z values were available, it was fairly difficult to plan how each piece would fit into the printing bed. Many compositions were experimented to find the set up that would require the least amount of support material.

There were a few trials during the printing process that have provided me a lot of experience with the nuisances of 3D technology. Predicting how the 3D model’s measurements would fit the actual physical dressform was incredibly difficult, and while my first trial was incorrect, I quickly learned how to adjust it to the accurate proportions. Some of the interlocking joints between the pieces could not print sharply in the ABS material, which taught me the restrictions of  standard-resolution technologies in comparison to the PolyJet or Powder methods. The joints were sanded down and the pieces joined with a polymer glue instead.

After the 3D printed pieces were completely joined into two left and right portions (7 pieces for each side), I sanded the surface to smooth out any support material residue that the chemical bath could not dissolve. The black ABS material ran out nearing the end of the printing and white ABS was used for the last 2 pieces. The difference was concealed once the neckpiece was spray painted a glossy black.

Unfortunately, the shoulder pieces were not completed in time for the garment selection. Nevertheless, it was very exciting to see the body of the 3D printed neckpiece with the completed dress. The rippled texture of the ABS plastic mimicked the woodgrain-like texture of the moire. I was very happy with the combination of the two patterns and the overall proportions of the garment put together.

Myself and the exhibition garment!

The dress and 3D printed neckpiece were selected for the Exhibition and were on display in the Spring of 2014. The shoulder pieces printed in time for the show and were added to the garment. It was an unbelievable experience to see 3 months of hard work come together in one moment. I was really excited to see both areas of my education combine into a single product.

Special thanks to Mo Shahadat and Jasper Lin from the PrintFX lab at the Fashion Institute of Technology, your instruction and support were invaluable to this project. And thank you to Professor Karen Middleton for your guidance and encouragement.