3D technology is nothing new given the fact that different manufacturing industries right from car parts to prosthetics have been actively using it in their production procedure for a long time. It is used for the production of samples and prototypes for mass manufacturing as 3D gives you the opportunity to change the color, size, and shape of an object on the computer with no added cost attached to it. Fashion is one of the major industries where the rising impact of 3D is being increasingly felt.
Right from mass-market production to sending off personalized garments to the shops or have those delivered to home, 3D can be the fashion statement of future. The use of this technology in fashion has been provided further impetus by the advancements in digital designing, material science, and production capabilities. The instances of wearing 3D-printed clothing have already been seen on the Catwalks thanks to the dress of burlesque dancer, Dita Von Teese. High street still has not quite caught up to the trend, but it is only a matter of time.
The most common techniques of utilizing 3D technology in fashion
3D is presently being used in more ways than one, and the heartening news is that more innovative ways are coming up in the years to come. The most common technology behind 3D printing is the FDM, or otherwise known as Fused Deposition Modelling. It is a system where a nozzle deposits layers upon layers of melted filament one upon the other at a temperature that remains constant around 200 degree Celsius. The material that is produced in this way is cost-effective and waterproof along with having high strength and durability. You get to infuse the material with multiple colors to give it any design that you want to.
Another popular method of implementing 3D technology in garments is through panel trammels. It is a method of combining traditional textiles with 3D printed panels. Both traditional textiles and the 3D printed ones have a niche appeal of their own and combining them together can be the next best thing to hit the fashion industry. However, panel trammeling is not without any challenges. One of the major challenges with this method is that the panel needs to be attached well so that it does not come off after a few wears or washes. Researchers are at work to improve the much-needed adhesiveness of the panels by tweaks and tuning up of the printing parameters.
Impact of 3D on the luxury fashion businesses
The foremost challenge that 3D poses to the luxury fashion business is counterfeiting and infringement of Intellectual Property Rights. Any luxury fashion house, be it selling clothes or watches, relies heavily on IPR to protect their products and creative ideas in the form of trademarks, copyrights or patents. It goes without saying that if 3D negates IPR protection, it will cause innovation and creativity to suffer and there will be a loss of customer loyalty and brand value.
Presently, the global import of fake goods already stands at over $500 billion a year, and it is predicted the 3D technologies are only going to make this number go up. It is not a far-fetched prediction given how cheap and easily available 3D printers are. The widely available 3D printers can take in the exact specifications and manufacture items like apparels, bags, and jewelry. One of the possible ways out to this problem is the insertion of microchips in the original products, but that is not going to be a long-term solution given the high demand in the market for fake goods.
3D technology also poses a threat to the present luxury retail chains. The consumers are given to play an active role in the creation and design of the product thanks to this new technology. Thing like multi-channel retailing, production chain and élite store experience have all been brought under risk. These are the most valued aspects of the business of any luxury brand, and when you curtail these, it amounts to losing business for any luxury brand.
Evolvement of 3D technology to suit the fashion industry
3D technology need not be refuted or seen as a threat by the fashion industry. In fact, it is something to be embraced and utilized through the right pathways. It is a part of the evolution of fashion whereby the use of new designs and materials are made possible, and the new processes and concepts help in the captivation of more high-end tastes. The luxury brands need to visualize 3D as a way to customize products according to customer’s preference and aid each customer to shine in his/her individuality. The gradual and sudden advent of 3D technology has the potential to lead the luxury brands to give a better shape to their unique image.
However, it is not like 3D technology does not come with its inherent limitations. For instance, it is more suited to hard materials than soft ones, and geometric patterns than organic ones. Also, the 3D printed materials feel too stiff and robust to ensure a high level of comfort. Even after 3D printing, each product needs traditional craftsmanship and manual work to lead it to perfection. The technology, like any others, is not without flaws but you can expect that with more research and study into it, there will be remarkable improvements that will revolutionize fashion industry.