Friday, November 13, 2015

Weaving in three dimensions

A garment is essentially a three-dimensional object. And yet the most common way of producing garments is from flat sheets of material - for example cloth or leather - that can be cut into pieces and then sewn into items of clothing. So we have a complex interaction between two patterns - the weaving pattern on the cloth and the cutting pattern for the tailor.

Some clothing designers have started to experiment with 3D printers, producing amazing fashion dresses and accessories.

Designer: Danit Peleg

Designers: Francis Bitonti and Michael Schmidt

For more examples, check out designers like Continuum Fashion.

But these costumes are mostly monochrome, and made from artificial materials such as nylon. Great for catwalk or party, or even a fashionable beach, but not exactly everyday wear. So instead of 3D printing, what about 3D weaving, using traditional materials? Here's something in linen.



Designer: Chen-Hsiang Hu
The industrial designer Oluwaseyi Sosanya has developed a new 3D weaving method, which allows not only the exact shape and size of the garment to be varied to the exact requirements of the wearer, but also the qualities of the woven fabric. He has been experimenting with footwear, where the density of the sole can vary from one part of the foot to another.

"With this [weaving system] you can pre-programme the density. At the ball of your foot, you may want a denser material. Right at the arch of your foot, you might want a softer material. At the heel, you might want a denser material. You can have that in one go."

Furthermore, Sosanya's system allows the footwear to be customized to the wearer's requirements, from sports to orthopaedics.
"Your foot is completely different to my foot,” said Sosanya. “We walk different, our cadence is different. All of these things are factors which play into the performance of our footwear. Now with 3D printing, you can scan your foot and you can scan an insole or even a whole sole or the whole shoe at some point. The designer and the chiropodist can say that you need to remove some material here and you can correct your walking. You have all of these opportunities now where you can do customisation around footwear." 

Of course, there is some history here. According to Wikipedia, perforated paper tapes were first used to control looms around 1725, but this technology did not become widespread until Jacquard switched to punched cards around 1801.

Source: Wikipedia

And according to the New Testament, Jesus wore a seamless robe for his crucifixion. One source (repeated around the internet, and now here) argues that this indicates an early Palestinian form of 3D weaving.
"Completely seamless garments, like the one Jesus wore, were unique to Palestine. They were woven on upright looms that used two sets of vertical warp threads, one at the front and one at the back of a crossbar. The weaver would alternate his shuttle, which carried the horizontal weft thread, from the front part of the web to the back, 'thus creating a cylindric piece of fabric,' says one reference work. A seamless tunic would likely have been a rare possession, and the soldiers considered it a desirable one." (Watchtower, 1 July 2009 p22)

If we combine these ancient and modern innovations, we can conceive of a very sophisticated form of personalization, in which the pattern on the cloth can be perfectly aligned with the cut of the garment, regardless of the size and shape of the wearer, without wasting material. And the material can be reinforced at elbows and shoulders. And the whole garment can be woven while you wait. No more child tailors in Far Eastern sweatshops then.




Related Posts: New Economics of Manufacturing (November 2015)

Wikipedia: Jacquard loom, Punched card, Seamless robe of Jesus

3D-woven fabric creates organically shaped lamps that glow in the dark
(de zeen, 11 April 2014)

Oluwaseyi Sosanya invents 3D weaving machine (de zeen, 23 June 2014)

Alec Buren, Danit Peleg 3D prints entire ready-to-wear fashion collection at home (3Ders, 24 July 2015)

Simon Cosimo, Electroloom - the world's first 3D fabric printer - launches on Kickstarter (3Ders, 16 May 2015)

Simon Cosimo, Fashion designer adds a third dimension to apparel design with '3D weaving' (3Ders, 31 July 31)

Shane Hickey, The innovators: the 3D weaving machine putting new heart into soles (Guardian 3 May 2015)

Tanya Lewis, 3D Printing Weaves Its Way into Fashion (LiveScience, 7 August 2013)

Robert Sullivan, Envisioning the Future of 3-D Fashion: Welcome to the Virtual Dressing Room (Vogue, 3 September 2014)

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