3D Printing Textiles: A World of Possibilities

By Frank Porras, School of Design & Engineering Resource Manager

Textile customization is an amazing art that’s been around for ages and has all sorts of cool techniques. You’ve got everything from simple hand painting to more sophisticated methods using frames and meshes to get paint exactly where you want it. The world of textile decoration is huge and diverse.

Embroidery, for instance, is a textile customization option that combines current technology with tradition. Embroidery machines use colored threads and follow precise designs generated by software, which makes this process a perfect mix of creativity and precision. But 3D printing has taken everything to the next level because you can print directly onto fabric using flexible and rigid materials. So not only can you add amazing designs, but you can also create textures and make things pop off the fabric.

How did I get into all this? Well, it all started when a fashion design student asked me to try printing on a mesh fabric. Next thing you know, I’m experimenting with all kinds of materials and designs. Even the fashion and textile design professors got in on the action because they were so excited about it. We discovered that you could do so much more than just print on fabric. You can make separate elements and mix them in, design custom buttons and accessories

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