The intricacies of making clothes have not changed much over the years; we still use needles, sewing machines and different fabrics. However, being Gadgets and looking to innovate with modern alternatives, we teamed up with MCAST, their crew of first-time BA in Fashion students and Patrick Prints to create Malta’s first-ever 3D-printed dress!
Two years in the making
This particular project started in 2019, when the Gadgets squad spoke with the students, lecturers and the printer involved. On-site, the students took us through the process they go through in searching for inspiration, before settling on a concept and preparing preliminary sketches.
One of the things that impressed Ian most however was the very human talent of one of the student’s managing to get perfect curves in her sketches. Apart from being the shape of the dress, the shape would first be modelled on chicken wire, with the 3D-printed panels then being moulded into that form.
While that base is being tended to, there’s someone else designing the actual dress, piece by piece. Explaining the process, the designer revealed how she was able to design the pieces, but the final extraction would need to be done by the 3D-printing team, which in this case, was Patrick Prints.
Planting the pattern
It was Patrick himself, from Patrick prints, who gave the tour of the printing part of this dress equation, explaining how the 3D model is placed into a software known as a “slicer” which then quite literally slices the model into pieces, and is fed into the printer via an SD card.
The printer takes the first layer and prints the design; it gets the second layer and prints that. This process goes on for a couple of thousand layers to eventually give a physical form to the model you’ve designed. The print is made from plant starch, so it’s completely natural too.
In terms of moulding, the prints are hollow from the inside, so each piece just needs to be dipped into hot water and instantly becomes malleable, making the designers’ job way easier! Each piece is then placed on and secured to the chicken wire, with any gaps being covered by smaller pieces to give a cascade effect to the dress.
For MCAST ICA senior lecturer Anna Ancilleri, she was happy to have been part of the experience. “This was something innovative for the students and myself too. The whole process is very interesting, seeing the whole process come together, from concept, where we weren’t entirely sure if it was doable, but with teamwork, thought and dedication, we came up with the designs”.
The finished product is on show as part of the MCAST ICA Festival, which is being held at Spazju Kreattiv until the 25th of July.
Watch the video below to see the finished product, and tag a fashionista!