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Fashion designer adds a third dimension to apparel design with '3D weaving

As we continue to learn how additive manufacturing processes can be applied to existing manufacturing processes in industries ranging from fashion to health care, we’re also starting to see how designers and artists are interpreting the use of the technology into their craft from an aesthetic standpoint.  

Similar to how access (or even restrictions) to various architectural materials can drastically change how an architect may approach the design for a structure, the same can be said about smaller scale, additive manufacturing-based projects.  

Among others who have been experiment with 3D printing in their craft include fashion designer Jim Chen-Hsiang Hu, a recent graduate of Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in London.    

Using a custom-made loom, Hu created a line of red dresses that feature 3D structures woven from linen threads using a 3D weaving technique that he developed.  In staying true to the digital fabrication influence, the 3D structures were accompanied by two-dimensional grid patterns that were attached around the base of the dresses, which were created with a laser cutter.

"The 3D woven technique – which I named Xi (系) – was developed through the searching of a proper vocabulary that tells the story," explains Hu. "I was thinking that a single thread or fibre could be understood as the most fundamental part of a garment."

Normally, similar garments are woven two-dimensionally to form a single piece of fabric before being assembled into the final garment.  What Hu did is essentially the same process, but with the addition of another dimension.  

The unique blend of next-generation fabrication technologies and traditional craft has been gaining more attention as of late due to the unique ability to straddle old methods with the new and re-think traditional manufacturing processes.  Additionally, it also allows designers such as Hu to refine the processes to better suit their intended application.  In this case, Hu’s 3D weaving process allowed for the final pieces to have structural grain within the resulting fabric, as opposed to the brittle layered conditions that occur within standard 3D printing processes.   

The resulting combination of futuristic textures in Hu’s garment collection - which he created while he was a student, it should be noted - represent what just might be the future of apparel design and manufacturing as more apparel factories equip themselves with next-generation apparel manufacturing equipment to handle new processes. 

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