top of page

3D Printing Clothing and Nanotechnology: What it will do to the Fabric Industry

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing, adding layers to create an object. When we 3D print we add layers of very fine additive chemicals on top of each other which fuse to form a 3D shape. There are no molds or any other tools involved to form the final shape.

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter at a scale of less than 100 nanometers. When observed at a molecular scale quantum effects create unique properties in materials. This unique nature of nanoparticles and nano-fibers is desired to add excellent mechanical strength, chemical resistance, water repellency, antibacterial properties and a number of other qualities unattainable by other means. Coating of NanoMaterials can be applied to any type of material in organic or synthetic and it can change their properties. The application of NanoTechnology in the field of textiles has led to the development of nano-fibers, NanoCompositions, NanoPolymers, NanoFinishes, etc.

Use of 3D printing in the fashion and textile industry: According to 3D printing market research the market has grown from 3.07 billion dollars in 2014 to 21 billion dollars by 2020. It has a 32% annual growth. 3D printing lets designers create personalized clothing design, in a shorter time with lesser material wasted compared to conventional manufacturing. 3D printing is currently used in various luxury industries, complex designs for gold jewelry that require extensive craftsmanship can now be printed using a CAD program in a shorter time. For their Autumn/Winter 2018 collection, Balenciaga used 3D printing to achieve the dramatic silhouette of their jackets, the designer 3D scanned the bodies of the models who were to wear the coats and digitally adjusted and altered the body shapes in a CAD program. These altered shapes were then 3D printed, molded, and cast with a lightweight foam.

With 3D printing technology, manufacturers and retailers can respond quickly to consumer demand and design a sustainable supply chain. 3D printed add-on pars can be used for athletic footwear with sensors, sporting goods, protective clothing and medical textiles. NASA engineers have developed 3D printed fabrics, which can provide their astronauts protection against severe conditions in space.

Use of NanoComposites in fashion: sports equipment manufacturers, outdoor wear designers have already been using and experimenting with NanoTextiles due to their amazing qualities. After the Zika virus outbreak during the Brazil olympics, Brazilian company, Nanox, developed clothing with NanoParticles that do all kinds, from reflecting solar radiation to removing odor-inducing microbes and releasing repellents and insecticides. They use silver, zinc, and copper, which are antibacterial and antimicrobial, to control body odor. NanoParticles shaped as glass microspheres with a zinc oxide, aluminum or titanium coating are used to provide solar protection. In the near future we will be seeing NanoTextiles that control body temperature, this is a self-regulating fabric made from infrared-sensitive yarn reactive to temperature and humidity. The yarns constrict to vent more heat or expand to hold the warmth to the body based on the changes in the environment on the person's skin and garment. NanoTextiles also maintain their strength and have near zero wear and tear when compared with current textiles.

3D printing and NanoTechnology will change the way our textile industry operates. With the faster production and higher durability it greatly optimized production process makes clothing more customizable. Technology is constantly advancing the ones that adopt newer technology earlier will have significant advantage and by the time these technologies become mainstream the early adopters will already have advantage and integrated them into products. Currently, NanoFabrics are still under development and

the potential environmental risk of NanoParticles releasing into the environment is still being debated and has been controversial . The benefits of NanoFibers and NanoEnhanced textiles still make this a field worth exploring, and maybe in ten years we can all have odor preventing, antibacterial , pest repellent, waterproof, and self cleaning clothing.

bottom of page