Connecting fashionistas across the world via a 3D printer
A model on one side of the world. A designer on the other. Some 400 hours of creativity later, the most spectacular 3D-printed dress stuns the global fashion world.
Industrial designer and Griffith University lecturer Samuel Canning has fused art with engineering to craft a spectacular world-first dress based on a body scan of a model on the other side of the globe.
Samuel teamed up with fashion designer Melinda Looi and the world’s leading exponent of 3D printing, Belgian-based company Materialise, to bring the concept to life.
It’s a project he describes as “beyond a doubt, the highlight of my design career”.
“It took me about 400 hours to model this dress on the computer and it ended up comprising somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 individual pieces,” he explains.
The gown was specifically folded to fit into a 3D printing machine and came out fully assembled in one individual piece – making it one of the first of its kind. It was then finished off by Melinda Looi with more than 5,000 Swarovski crystals.
Inspired by the ocean, the dress was first unveiled on The Today Show in the US before its debut in Australia, Asia and Europe.
Sam explains it was a collaborative international project, highlighting the incredible potential of 3D printing technology.
“We had a Malaysian model who was scanned in Switzerland by an Italian 3D scanner, and then the files were sent back to Australia where they were processed before printing in Belgium,” he says.
“It shows a very interesting feature of this technology that we want the next generation of designers to see – that there is a real place and ever growing demand for this type of expertise.”
From his beginnings as a hand French polisher restoring antiques in England – utilising no technology at all – Sam’s journey to the world of 3D printing and the field of fashion is not as unlikely as it may seem.
His first apprenticeship sparked a love of craftsmanship – a theme ever present in his career and certainly at the forefront of his latest work.
From here he began making his own furniture before moving to Australia in 1997.
“I was intrigued by furniture that had been cut so accurately, so I started to look into how it had been made and that’s when I came across digital technology,” he says.
“From there I became interested in industrial design, which led me eventually to fashion.
“Fashion allows for a new kind of craftsmanship and it’s one that I believe will revolutionise what it means to work in the industry.
“We are already seeing the very same software that is used to build aeroplanes now used to create hats, shoes and clothing.
“It won’t be long before shoppers can have permanent scans of their bodies that will allow them to try fashion on in a virtual sense, moving all of our shopping experiences online and meaning we may never have to worry about fitting again.
“With fashion so open to new ideas and accepting of new technology, it is an ideal field to realise the potential for the newest technology.
“3D printing really does change the way we work and what is possible.”