3D printing is a new concept to the textile industry but is often touted as the sustainable manufacturing model for this industry. Top eco-friendly designers look at 3D printing as the panacea of the manufacturing ills present in the traditional manufacturing system. Earlier, 3D printing was confined to make plastic models but it has taken significant strides in the area of textile development with different fibres in the recent years. 3D printing is capable of initiating a new era of sustainable fashion.
Here are some of the ways through which 3D printing is nudging the fashion industry into being sustainable.
No waste of production: Generally, in the fashion industry, designers have to make numerous samples that are custom-designed to meet the individual’s needs. With 3D printing, a designer’s production can be reduced to the count of one. With this technology, one can save the extra cost of production, storage and space to meet the factory’s minimum requirements. Further, 3D printing technology uses exact quantity of materials needed for production, and thus, there is no yardage of cut fabrics and no need of purchasing extra materials.
Eco-friendly production: The traditional development process takes a year before the fashion actually hit the market; it involves multiple product rounds and materials sourcing from different vendors. However, with 3D printing, most of these steps are done digitally before the first sample is made. 3D printers allow you to decide which materials and what design to work on. This reduces the garbage to a high extent.
Secondly, designers save a lot in shipping costs, as the production of a sample through 3D printers is hyper-local. One needs to just pull the patterns from digital files and products can be made onsite.
Use of biodegradable materials: Biodegradable plastics are made from a mixture of starch, gelatine, vinegar and water. Although it is still not in use in the textile industry, the idea is gaining momentum at a great pace. PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) is the most commonly used bio-plastic, derived from corn. It’s easy to use and is considered as a safe material.On the other hand, the above-described PLA can also be melted down and recycled according to the user’s needs. Such type of material can be endlessly renewed and thus, can be a sustainable answer to the ecologically damaging textile production.
Extending life of products: Another futuristic advantage of 3D printing in the fashion industry is extending the life of existing products or by renewing them with new embellishments or recreating missing accessories.
Of spider hoodie , 3D printing will prove greener than any other type of manufacturing process in the textile industry but until and unless 3D printed products match the feel, comfort and durability of natural fibres, the future of 3D printing seems bleak. Several breakthroughs are required before this haute couture turns into accessible fashion.