Glowing Dress Harnesses New 3D Printing Technique

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It is safe to say that the two most popular 3D printing processes in use today are Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and resin printing. The latter term encompasses several different techniques that utilize vats of photosensitive resin, the most common being MSLA (Masked Stereolithography). But what if you could combine FDM and resin printing to get the best of both worlds? What could you make? High-tech fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht used such a technique to fabricate this eye-catching illuminated dress in collaboration with Chromatic 3D Materials.

The 3D printing process utilized by Wipprecht is called Reactive Deposition Modeling (RDM). An RDM 3D printer moves like an FDM printer, but extrudes a special viscous resin instead of molten thermoplastic filament. The RDM printer then immediately cures the extruded resin before it can ooze or deform.

Wipprecht partnered with Chromatic 3D Materials to take advantage of their ChromaFlow 70 polyurethane resin, which is strong, flexible, and available in semi-translucent colors. That was key to the design of this dress, because the illumination comes from large 3D-printed studs that cover the dress. Those needed to be flexible enough for a dress and needed to diffuse the light. The RDM printing process was integral, because it let Wipprecht print directly onto the underlying fabric and to pause the prints in order to place the electronic components.

Those components included an Arduino UNO R4 board, an Arduino Nano, proximity sensors, and Adafruit Flora RGB NeoPixel V2 LEDs. The proximity sensors let the dress respond to the movement of those around its wearer. The dress has almost 75 of the LED pods to produce engaging effects.

This dress will be available for viewing at Frankfurt, Germany’s upcoming Formnext event, which will run from November 7th to November 10th. You can see it at the Chromatic 3D Materials booth, located in Hall 12.1, E110.

We’re impressed by Wipprecht’s dress design, but we also find the RDM 3D printing process and the ChromaFlow resin very intriguing. It has vast potential, even outside of e-textiles, and we’re excited to see how people use it.

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