Designing the Future at Inside 3D Printing

“Where is it all going? The unimagined, the unintended, the unleashed,” said Avi Reichental, delivering the keynote address at the Inside 3D Printing conference. Reichental, president and CEO of  3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), a global leader in content-to-print solutions, described a world of hybrid manufacturing where 3D printing is integrated into traditional manufacturing; a world where complexity that is otherwise unachievable, is free and provides opportunities to do things that have not yet been imagined.


While this incited excitement in the room, it was no great shock to the hundreds of designers, developers, innovators and 3D printing enthusiasts that came from around the world to attend the first ever 3D printing conference. Among the crowd, the bigger question was how to make the technology more consumer friendly. The companies in attendance were tackling this from a variety of angles, from software and hardware to design and execution. Some of these included,  3D Nation, which focuses on providing customers design assistance; Sculpteo, which offers customers the opportunity to transform 3D files into 3D objects; and Mcor, whose printers use paper as its material at a fraction of the cost.

These innovations and products are a step towards the “accessibility and democratization of 3D printing,” that Reichental spoke of in his keynote address. In addition to the solutions the many attending companies are offering, the price point of printers at the exhibit hall, ranging from $400-$100,000+, speak to accessibility as well. This can also be seen by the 3D printed creations on display, which included belts, shoes and purses from 3D Systems, bracelets from Makerbot, and rings and home design from Sculpteo.

“The future is here – we just don’t know it yet,” said Brian Evans, of Metropolitan State University of Denver, during his presentation on desktop printing. We at Printing Dress have never believed this to be more true.

Materialise Launches Fully Functional Fabric

The fashion world has been waiting, with both excitement and fear, for the 3D printing industry to develop materials that can be used in wearable 3D printed designs. Among those championing this innovation is Dutch designer, Iris Van Herpen, who debuted  the first 3D printed collection in Paris this past January. Her pieces were created with TPU 92A-1, a material developed by Materialise and launched to the professional Materialise community March 14th. According to the Belgian based company, the material is unique in its flexibility, elasticity, and high resistance to wear and tear. We’re excited to see  TPU 92A-1 in action!

New Balance Follows In Nike’s Footsteps

Less than two weeks after Nike announced their new innovation, a football cleat created utilizing 3D printing technology, New Balance has come to the table.  On Wednesday, the company debuted a running shoe, which contains a customizable 3D printed plate and promises to enhance a runners performance.

This product image released by New Balance shows a New Balance shoe from Jack Bolas’ 3D printed plate. New Balance is taking customization much further than choosing colors or other aesthetic details. The athletic brand is introducing sneakers that use 3-D printing to create a plate on the sole of the shoe that is supposed to enhance performance with every step. (AP Photo/New Balance)

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press/New Balance

Prior to the plates production, athletes are measured and monitored using 100 sensors to gauge how their foot moves as they run as well as how and where they apply pressure.  A motion capture system is then used to detect broader movement. All of this data is input into the creation of a plate that lives on the sole of the shoe.

Photo Courtesy of Brian Babineau/New Balance via

Like many other 3D printed forays into apparel, this product is currently unavailable to the masses. However, as Katherine Petrecca, the business manager of studio innovation, told the Associated Press,

“The technology is early and our implementation is still really in a very early phase, but you can envision as the technology improves and capacity increases — and cost comes down — the audience who will benefit from customization will just grow and grow and grow. This will get down eventually to the casual athlete.”

Chris Wawrousek, studio innovation lead designer, added,

“It feels like a new industrial revolution in some ways. We’re no longer limited by scale to produce a product, and customization can be totally practical.”

Dita Von Teese Don’s 3D Printed Dress

Avant garde style icon, Dita Von Teese, is always one to stay ahead of the curve. On Monday, she modeled a long black gown at The Ace Hotel made in collaboration with designer Michael Schmidt (below, left) and architect Francis Bitonti (below, right).


Photo courtesy of Nina 

The dress, which took 3 months to make, was designed virtually by Schmidt and Bitonti and was produced by Shapeways. It was made of 17 components and 3,000 joints which were printed from powdered nylon. Given the current limitations of printable materials, Schmidt, who designed Lady Gaga’s 2009 bubble dress, explained that breaking down each component was critical for creating something that would appear sensual on the body. Once printed, the pieces were lacquered and adorned with 13,000 black Swarovski crystals.

We think Von Teese looks stunning and Oscar ready!


Photo courtesy of Nina Frazier, 

More on the gown’s creation courtesy of Shapeways found below:

Nike Does It Again

Nike is wasting no time justifying its placement at the top of Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative Companies of 2013. Yesterday, Nike introduced the Vapor Laser Talon, the first ever football cleat produced with 3D printing technology. Nike designers worked with elite trainers and gold medal sprinter, Michael Johnson, to design the shoe, which weighs only 5.6 oz and is built for mastering the 40 yard dash.

Photo courtesy of

The cleat contains a 3D printed plate, which is designed to optimize an athlete’s acceleration through the first 10 yards of the 40 yard dash. It was built using Selective Laser Sintering Technology (SLS), an additive manufacturing process which uses a high power laser to fuse together small particles of plastic, metal, ceramic, or glass powders. The laser selectively fuses the material layer by layer until the part is complete, based on a 3D description of the product in the form of a CAD file.

“SLS technology has revolutionized the way we design cleat plates – even beyond football – and gives Nike the ability to create solutions that were not possible within the constraints of traditional manufacturing processes” said Shane Kohatsu, Director of Nike Footwear Innovation.

With 44,000 employees and annual revenue of $24 billion in 2012, there are boundless possibilities for what Nike can do. We look forward to seeing what they cook up in the Innovation Kitchen in coming months!

UPDATE! Shapeways and Ace Hotel Expo Rescheduled for 3/2

Photo Courtesy of

POTUS Underscores Importance of 3D Printing in SOTU

“Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race,” said President Obama in last night’s State Of The Union. Stressing the priority of adding jobs and manufacturing, the President cited a Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngston, Ohio, which is “mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” The president asked for congress’s support to open a network of 15 hubs, ensuring that the next manufacturing revolution takes place in America.

What does this mean for the 3D printing industry? In addition to bringing awareness to those unfamiliar with the technology, the president’s remark ignites a feeling of plausibility, indicating that the industrial and commercial impact is not far away.

Shares of 3D printing makers jumped in pre-market trading. If that’s any indication, I expect that we will see a spike in “3D printing” Google searches in the days to come and hopefully with that knowledge, an interest and investment in R&D.

Searches on 3D printing spike after SOTU

Searches on 3D printing spike after SOTU

Searches on “3D printing” spiked to an all-time high immediately following the State of the Union address.

3D Printing Hits Fall 2013 Fashion Week

Nemo is not the only storm to hit Fall 2013 Fashion Week. For the first time, we are seeing a true collision taking place in the worlds of fashion and 3D printing.

In NY, Kimberly Orvitz has partnered with Shapeways to produce a line of 3D printed jewelry, which models wore as they sashayed down the runway at her February 7th show. The six piece jewelry collection is available for purchase at Shapeways, and ranges in price from $35 to $250.


Photo courtesy of

As stated on the Shapeways’ website, Orvitz took inspiration from the exoskeleton to create a collection which will “mold to your body like armor.”

And Orvitz is not alone in exploring 3D printing this Fashion Month. In Paris, Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen has used 3D printing to produce 3 pieces of his 11 piece collection, which is on display now. Van Herpen says, “I find the process of 3D printing fascinating because I believe it will only be a matter of time before we see the clothing we wear today produced with this technology…and it will be a great source of inspiration for new ideas.”

The skirt, dress, and cape were produced in collaboration with artist Neri Oxman of MIT’s Media Lab, Austrian architect and UCLA lecturer Julia Koehner, 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys and software company Materialise. Following fashion week, the skirt and cape will be displayed at MIT’s Media Lab.


Photos courtesy of Stratasys Ltd/PR Newswire

Shapeways Partners with Ace Hotel for Fashion Week 3D Printing Expo

On February 9th, Shapeways will be hosting a 3D printing event at the Ace Hotel in New York City. Overlapping with Fashion Week, the event will showcase emerging designers and explore how technology is revolutionizing the industry.

Fashion Week 3D Printing Expo