Nylon is commonly used in clothing and has also become a popular material for 3D printing service as well, where nylon is melted and then hardened with lasers to make solid 3D objects.
Now though 3D printing using nylon has been made to make clothes by using a version of nylon that once hardened into place with a laser is still flexible.
Examples of 3D printed Bikinis were recently shown at the RAPID trade Show; designed and printed by Continuum the original design was done using 3D CAD software.
Using CAD software and a CNC sewing machine it is already possible to make clothing of course to a design but this is only possible with long fibers such as cotton or flax based linen. For use with Nylon and other similar man made fibers 3D printing could offer a cheaper alternative and with certain garments, such as Bikinis, flexible man made fibers are necessary.
What Continuum have actually been able to do with this Bikini is to make it so its more comfortable when wet because the Nylon used is itself waterproof.
Bikinis were chosen by Continuum as an example not just because of the unique comfort qualities but also because they are small and easy to make with a small printer. They hope however in future to be able to make any sized garment by moving the garment as its printed. If the same could be applied to general 3D printing service printers then their potential would be greatly enhanced as the size of entry level printers is only suitable for small parts and other small items; although companies such as 3D Systems do make very expensive large 3D printers.
This development is important for the use of 3D printing service for small home businesses as well. People have been discussing for some time how small businesses can use 3D printing to start new businesses; starting a fashion and clothing business could soon then be possible using your own 3D printer in house or a 3D printing service where you can send your order as a CAD file, as you would in the past with a digital file to a 2D printer, and get your items delivered by post.
Having a 3D printer in house though can also help with development, it makes it quick to print out a design test it and try it and then make adjustments and try again if needed.
What is more with a CAD file you can adjust the size of a product as well, quickly and easily, but if only certain dimensions need changing you can potentially print clothes with specific dimensions. Could using a 3D printing service for clothes then, where you can choose every dimension though, be a potential new business to rival tailors but with much lower costs? Vitally with 3D printing one-copy costs little more per unit than if you were printing a thousand copies, especially if automated.