ABSTRACT: Fashion Students Learn Direct 3D Printing on Fabric

3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that has found its way into makerspaces, home studios and classrooms. The process is used predominately for rapid prototyping and small-scale production of objects. 3D printing can also be used directly on fabrics to enhance the surface, dramatically change the appearance, or add a built-in feature.

Nylon tulle has been placed over the first layer of PLA and secured to the bed with binder clips.

Sustainable manufacturing

3D printing is considered a sustainable manufacturing approach. It entails only applying materials where needed and, unlike traditional fabric printing processes, does not require excessive amounts of water. Sustainability and innovation are two sometimes seemingly opposing initiatives in the apparel industry. “Introducing Fashion Students to Direct 3D Printing on Fabric” presents educational project approaches to direct printing on fabric using a Lulzbot Taz6 printer and both rigid (PLA) filament and flexible (Ninjaflex) filaments. This project was developed in a college-level exploratory Apparel Technology course, but could be easily adapted to a high school classroom.

Student project features multiple PLA elements on stretch mesh for use in a specific garment location.

(No students in the Apparel Technology course had prior experience with 3D modeling software or 3D printing.)

Lori Wahl is an instructor in apparel, textiles and design in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Idaho. She teaches courses in technology, product development and design. Prior to this, Wahl worked in the West Coast apparel industry for 19 years, employed by Nike, Adidas, Hanna Andersson and as a freelance designer.

ACTE members can read Wahl’s article, “Introducing Fashion Students to Direct 3D Printing on Fabric,” in the April 2019 issue of Techniques — Making the Case for Family and Consumer Sciences. Not a member? Join! ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers.