3D technologies revolutionise customisable fashion & reduce waste

August 05, 2019

Annie Foo, the London based Fashion Footwear and Accessories Designer, has teamed up with leading 3D printing, scanning and design business Europac 3D to manufacture customisable bespoke pieces that fit exactly to an individual’s body shape.  The partnership is a break-through for producing commercially viable, mainstream 3D printed parts for the fashion industry.

Annie’s vision is to explore innovative methods of producing stylish pieces whilst also helping to reduce the impact fashion has on the future environment.  The work combines traditional shoe making with new and innovative technologies that will push the boundaries of industrial fashion design and manufacture.

The techniques and improvements in 3D scanning and printing technologies mean that using 3D scanning technology to capture the human form allows for completely customised fashion garments manufactured on demand and to an exact fit. This highly significant development is expected to rapidly influence the way fashion will be acquired in the future.

Annie started her work by 3D scanning shoe lasts and human feet to create a digital base model from which to develop her designs around. Using software such as Gravity Sketch VR, Annie’s freehand brush strokes were captured perfectly while still conforming to the underlying base digital model. The designs were then refined in software such as Rhino3D and a 3D printable solid model was created in the form of an STL file.

Annie worked in close collaboration with the engineers at Europac3D to calculate the optimal material for production of a working shoe that could withstand the weight of a human, without compromising the original design aesthetics.

The shoes were 3D printed using a HP 4200 Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printer based at Europac 3D’s offices in Cheshire, UK. The material chosen was a PA12 Nylon, which offered an excellent balance between strength and flexibility for this application. The final pieces that were used for the catwalk were painted and finished with leather.

Annie comments, “There is no such things of zero waste fashion unless we don’t consume.  The only solution is to buy less and select fashion products carefully. Only buy the clothes and shoes that perfectly fit your body and use materials that last for longer.”

A pair of shoes took just three hours to build and the raw material cost is at a point that would be comparable to shoes on the high street. The significance for the 3D market is that thanks to break-throughs in printing 3D printing is no longer limited to concept modelling and early prototypes.   The use of innovative scanning and 3D printing technology has enabled Annie to manufacture custom made items on demand, but still with an eye on sustainability and traditional processes.

John Beckett, Managing Director of Europac 3D, comments: “These are exciting times as HP’s 3D printing technologies now offers an alternative route to manufacture.  This way of working has the added benefit are being able to digitally manipulate each individual shoe to a person’s form or to customise each item bespoke to the individual.  The opportunities are endless for the fashion industry.”

The HP technology now offers an alternative route to manufacture with the added benefit of being able to digitally manufacture each individual shoe to a person’s shape/form or to customise each item bespoke to the individual.

Europac 3D, headquartered in state of the art facilities in Crewe, Cheshire, has more than 20 years of experience in the field of 3D scanning, printing and installation serving a range of sectors and more than 500 businesses across the UK.  The company offers a full spectrum of services from the supply of cutting-edge scanners, printers and accessories to installation, maintenance and training of staff in the usage of 3D hardware and software.

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