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Visionary Fashion Designers Describe New Creative Freedom with Stratasys 3D Printing to Open MFA’s #techstyle

One of the advantages of 3D printing is its ability to take a process that’s been done the same way since its inception and transform it – pushing its boundaries and unlocking new freedom of expression.  Nowhere is that more evident than in fashion where advancements in digital fabrication are enabling designers to transform ideas and complex geometries into spectacular garments and accessories. For example, the fashion industry’s adoption of 3D printing has led to some breakthrough, runway-proven collaborations, most notably seen in the works of Prof. Neri Oxman, threeASFOUR’s partnership with Travis Fitch, and Iris Van Herpen with Stratasys 3D printing.

In recognition of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts new #techstyle Exhibit, which celebrates the fusion of fashion and technology, Stratasys hosted a lively panel discussion and networking session for the faculties of leading art and design colleges, moderated by Gina Scala, director of marketing and global education at Stratasys, and held at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s (MassART) newly opened Design & Media Center.

The 3D printed 'Anthozoa' cape and skirt, a collaboration between Iris van Herpen and Neri Oxman, showcases multi-color, multi-material capabilities produced on the Stratasys Connex Multi-material, Multi-color 3D Printer. The unique fashion piece first featured at Paris Fashion show in January 2013 is now on exhibit at MFA's #techstyle.
The 3D printed ‘Anthozoa’ cape and skirt, a collaboration between Iris van Herpen and Neri Oxman, showcases multi-color, multi-material capabilities produced on the Stratasys Connex Multi-material, Multi-color 3D Printer. The unique fashion piece first featured at Paris Fashion show in January 2013 is now on exhibit at MFA’s #techstyle.

The panel featuring prof. Neri Oxman and designers Travis Fitch, and threeASFOUR’s Gabi Asfour and Adi Gil, all of whom have featured works in the exhibit, provided insightful analysis on the intersection of art and science, and how 3D printing triggers the synthesis of various cultures and creative disciplines.

Oxman, an architect and professor at MIT, noted that design has come to an interesting transition where artists are no longer bound by their objective views (“Age of Enlightenment”), but rather, see geometries from a broader point of view as a result of modern technology (“Age of Entanglement”).

“Material scientists see the world through properties, and biologists through functionality. A 3D printed geometry provides a tangible piece with defined properties and functionality—making it relatable for both material scientists and biologists,” explained Oxman.

In addition to providing a common language for users, 3D printing allows designers to visualize and move freely through the creative process. Artists can make instantaneous modifications without jeopardizing production time.

“When designing a garment, artists undergo various steps. There’s draping, flattening patterns, selecting fabrics, sewing the components together to achieve the final design. With 3D printing, we’re working with all these elements from the beginning,” said Asfour. “It allows your mind to jump around between these different stages without restriction. It becomes a whole new way of looking at clothing.”

Produced with Stratasys Connex multi-color, multi-material 3D printers, Oxman, threeASFOUR and Fitch’s garments feature flexible and durable properties, neither of which could have been produced using a traditional approach.

“You can’t take 3D printing out of the equation,” observed Fitch. “Most of what we were trying to do was geared towards creating geometry that you can only make a certain way.”

Recent adopters and established users agree that the key to understanding new technologies like 3D printing is experimentation and collaboration.

“I’m still learning every day,” said Gil. “For us it’s all about experimentation—learning by doing.”

“Education gets in the way of learning. I think that’s very true with 3D printing and other emerging technologies we see today,” added Oxman.

Stratasys 3D printed fashion and art pieces are featured in permanent collections across the world’s most prestigious museums including MoMA (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Science Museum (London), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Museum of Modern Art  (San Francisco) and MAK (Vienna).

The #techstyle Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, featuring Stratasys 3D printed design and fashion works with prof. Neri Oxman, threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch, opened on March 6 and runs until July 10.

See how threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch created new movement in 3D printed fashion at New York Fashion Week with Stratasys’ nano enhanced elastomeric 3D printing material (to be commercially available later in 2016).

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