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Revolutionary 3D printed fashion to be developed at Loughborough University

Personalised 3D printed fashion - manufactured within 24 hours - is the end goal of a new project led by Loughborough University that’s set to change the way we shop for clothes.

Dr Guy Bingham, Senior Lecturer in Product and Industrial Design, has teamed up with global textile and garment manufacturer the Yeh Group, to embark on landmark work in 3D textile printing that could revolutionise how clothes and footwear are made.

The 18-month project[1], known as 3D Fashion, will see Dr Bingham - a world leader in his field - produce 3D wearable, full size, Additive Manufacturing (AM) textile garments and footwear - with design input from a major fashion house.

Advancements in AM textiles have made it possible to produce 3D printed garments directly from raw material, such as polymer, in a single manufacturing operation. This technology not only has the potential to reduce waste, labour costs and CO2e, but can modernise clothing production by encouraging localised manufacturing and production.

Currently, garment manufacture generates 1.8 million tonnes of waste material - equivalent to 70kg or 100 pairs of jeans per UK household, with 6.3 billion m³ of water used in the process - equivalent to 200,000 litres per year per household or 1,000 filled bathtubs[2]. 

Dr Bingham said: “With 3D printing there is no limit to what you can build and it is this design freedom which makes the technology so exciting by bringing to life what was previously considered to be impossible.

“This landmark technology allows us as designers to innovate faster and create personalised, ready-to-wear fashion in a digital world with no geometrical constraints and almost zero waste material. We envisage that with further development of the technology, we could 3D print a garment within 24 hours.

“Printing clothes using AM will revolutionise the fashion industry worldwide by opening up digital manufacturing to the masses via online retail, bringing a much needed update to 19th century techniques and processes. This modern approach to clothing production helps meet the growing demand for personalised apparel and footwear which through 3D printing can be produced in a sustainable and ethical way.”

David Yeh, Managing Director, Tong Siang (Yeh Group), said: “3D Fashion supports the Yeh Group vision of direct polymer to garment manufacture. The Yeh Group is always striving to cut out unnecessary waste and resource use, and support the industries goals of faster to market, creating a manufacturing technology that brands and retailers can install closer to their customers. This is all with no compromise to performance.”

Industrial collaboration opportunities are available for future research in AM materials and technology development. To find out more click here or contact Colm Watling, IP Officer at Loughborough University, on 01509 222943 or email C.Q.Watling@lboro.ac.uk.

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