In the past few months, I’ve been traveling for weeks at a time with only one suitcase of clothes. One day, I was invited to an important event, and I wanted to wear something special and new for it. So I looked through my suitcase and I couldn’t find anything to wear.
I was lucky to be at the technology conference on that day, and I had access to 3D printers. So I quickly designed a skirt on my computer, and I loaded the file on the printer. It just printed the pieces overnight. The next morning, I just took all the pieces, assembled them together in my hotel room, and this is actually the skirt that I’m wearing right now.
So it wasn’t the first time that I printed clothes. For my senior collection at fashion design school, I decided to try and 3D print an entire fashion collection from my home. The problem was that I barely knew anything about 3D printing, and I had only nine months to figure out how to print five fashionable looks.
I always felt most creative when I worked from home. I loved experimenting with new materials, and I always tried to develop new techniques to make the most unique textiles for my fashion projects. I loved going to old factories and weird stores in search of leftovers of strange powders and weird materials, and then bring them home to experiment on. As you can probably imagine, my roommates didn’t like that at all.
So I decided to move on to working with big machines, ones that didn’t fit in my living room. I love the exact and the custom work I can do with all kinds of fashion technologies, like knitting machines and laser cutting and silk printing. One summer break, I came here to New York for an internship at a fashion house in Chinatown.
We worked on two incredible dresses that were 3D printed. They were amazing — like you can see here. But I had a few issues with them. They were made from hard plastics and that’s why they were very breakable. The models couldn’t sit in them, and they even got scratched from the plastics under their arms.
With 3D printing, the designers had so much freedom to make the dresses look exactly like they wanted, but still, they were very dependent on big and expensive industrial printers that were located in a lab far from their studio. Later that year, a friend gave me a 3D printed necklace, printed using a home printer.
I knew that these printers were much cheaper and much more accessible than the ones we used at my internship. So I looked at the necklace, and then I thought, “If I can print a necklace from home, why not print my clothes from home, too?” I really liked the idea that I wouldn’t have to go to the market and pick fabrics that someone else chose to sell — I could just design them and print them directly from home.
I found a small makerspace, where I learned everything I know about 3D printing. Right away, they literally gave me the key to the lab, so I could experiment into the night, every night. The main challenge was to find the right filament for printing clothes with.
So what is a filament? Filament is the material you feed the printer with. And I spent a month or so experimenting with PLA, which is a hard and scratchy, breakable material. The breakthrough came when I was introduced to Filaflex, which is a new kind of filament.
It’s strong, yet very flexible. And with it, I was able to print the first garment, the red jacket that had the word “Liberté” — “freedom” in French — embedded into it. I chose this word because I felt so empowered and free when I could just design a garment from my home and then print it by myself. And actually, you can easily download this jacket, and easily change the word to something else.
For example, your name or your sweetheart’s name. So the printer plates are small, so I had to piece the garment together, just like a puzzle. And I wanted to solve another challenge. I wanted to print textiles that I would use just like regular fabrics.
That’s when I found an open-source file from an architect who designed a pattern that I love. And with it, I was able to print a beautiful textile that I would use just like a regular fabric. And it actually even looks a little bit like lace. So I took his file and I modified it, and changed it, played with it — many kinds of versions out of it.
And I needed to print another 1,500 more hours to complete printing my collection. So I brought six printers to my home and just printed 24-7. And this is actually a really slow process, but let’s remember the Internet was significantly slower 20 years ago, so 3D printing will also accelerate and in no time you’ll be able to print a T-Shirt in your home in just a couple of hours, or even minutes.
So you guys, you want to see what it looks like? Audience: Yeah! Danit Peleg: Rebecca is wearing one of my five outfits. Almost everything here she’s wearing, I printed from my home. Even her shoes are printed. Audience: Wow! Audience: Cool! Danit Peleg: Thank you, Rebecca. Thank you, guys.
So I think in the future, materials will evolve, and they will look and feel like fabrics we know today, like cotton or silk. Imagine personalized clothes that fit exactly to your measurements. Music was once a very physical thing. You would have to go to the record shop and buy CDs, but now you can just download the music — digital music — directly to your phone. Fashion is also a very physical thing.
And I wonder what our world will look like when our clothes will be digital, just like this skirt is.