3D opportunity for art: AM gets fashionable


Posted by Tim Murphy

Recently, Additive Manufacturing (AM) has made headlines for opening a 004 Art-for-fashion-blogvariety of doors that expand the capabilities of manufacturing. Many have heard the stories of its forays into the medical, automotive, and aerospace and defense. But now it is leaving its mark in a new and perhaps unexpected area–art and fashion. For the first time, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art opened a new exhibit to the public that features 3D printed fashion, exclusively designed by Iris van Herpen.1 And the 45 pieces showcased are not only noteworthy for being 3D printed but also for being the first fashion exhibit ever presented at the museum. Much of this is credited to her ultra-unique and futuristic designs that were never before seen within the fashion community.

For many business leaders, art and fashion may not be a top-of-mind use case for AM. However, those that participated in Deloitte’s 3D opportunity: The course on additive manufacturing for business leaders Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) may have seen this unique application of the technology unfolding. In “3D opportunity for the future” we observed through course assignments and group discussions that industry stakeholders (both as creators and users) were highly interested in applying AM to both apparel and fashion and artistic purposes.2

By providing an outlet for people to learn and share ideas regarding AM applications, we were granted a peek into where the demand for the technology is focused. For instance, while medical technology was the most popular application of AM amongst participants, the second most cited was apparel and fashion; and the fifth was artistic purposes. Figure 1 shows that these were surprisingly more salient to participants in the course than aerospace and defense and smart tech and electronics. Going one level deeper, we were even able to uncover why people found applying AM to art and fashion so appealing–the customization capabilities that previously did not exist. In fact, Figure 2 shows that art and fashion were the most noted applications for this reason (compared to all other potential applications).

Today, the portfolio of Iris van Herpen (whose work has also been featured at Paris Fashion Week3) offers some validation to the MOOC participants that saw the potential in applying AM to create customizable and innovative art and fashion products. Interesting use cases such as this one leaves me to wonder what other unforeseen opportunities are being explored within the field of AM.

Figure 1. Industry applications of AM identified by MOOC participants (N = 507)

Figure 2. Attributes motivating the use of AM across industry applications

1Michael Molitch-Hou, “High Museum of Art Atlanta Pays Tribute to van Herpen’s 3D Printed Fashion,” 3D Printing Industry, November 12, 2016, http://3dprintingindustry.com/2015/11/12/high-museum-of-art-atlanta-pays-tribute-to-van-herpens-3d-printed-fashion/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=3dpi%2Btwitter.
2Tim Murphy, Heather Gray, and Mark Cotteleer, “3D opportunity for the future: Industry participants speak out,” Deloitte Review 17, July 27, 2015, http://dupress.com/articles/future-of-additive-manufacturing-industry-speaks/?coll=8717.
3See endnote 1.

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