Multi-material 3D printer brings gorgeous fashion to life

The Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 3D printer has been demonstrated to gorgeous effect by designer and engineer Dr Michaella Janse van Vuuren.

The capabilities of the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 3D printer have been demonstrated to gorgeous effect by designer and engineer Dr Michaella Janse van Vuuren.

(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)

Multi-material is going to be the next big thing in 3D printing, allowing for multiple colours and materials in a single print session. And 3D printing company Stratasys is right in the vanguard with its Objet500 Connex3, unveiled in January.

(Credit: Stratasys)

The printer has three nozzles, which allows users to print in three materials at the same time — or three different colours, cyan, magenta and yellow, for an entire rainbow of colour options.

What could you do with such a printer? Well, the potential options are amazing. But perhaps an artist is the best person to showcase just how beautiful 3D printing can be. Dr Michaella Janse van Vuuren, a South African artist, designer and engineer, has used the Objet500 Connex3 to create a range of fashion accessories in a collection she calls the Garden of Eden — a subverted version of the biblical myth in which the woman is free and powerful.

"This is the first time that I'm using a 3D printing technology that truly allows me to make something so close to an end product," van Vuuren. "The ability to combine rigid and flexible materials in one piece is something that is so rare, and introducing color into the process inspires us creatives to think in a whole new way."

(Credit: Stratasys)

The collection consists of some truly gorgeous pieces: a stained glass-inspired corset based on the Tree of Knowledge, made of three different rubbery materials in clear, solid black and pink-hued, fitted using body-scanning technology; several pairs of shoes based on the serpent, with the snake forming the heel from rigid material and a more flexible upper; a serpent belt from multi-hued rubber material; and fish bracelets made from both rigid and flexible materials.

"Depicting the water features in the Garden of Eden, the Fish in Lilies bracelet explores rigid mechanical solutions to bend the bracelet around the wrist while the Fish in Coral piece experiments with different material properties to create a more rubbery part," van Vuuren explained.

Van Vuuren has not mentioned whether she will be selling the collection on her website, or whether it is an art piece not meant for consumer release, but Garden of Eden is only the beginning — not only for van Vuuren, but for an entire new generation of 3D-printed design.

(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)

"I have only scratched the surface of the possibilities with the Objet500 Connex3 3D Printer," concludes van Vuuren. "Not only does this technology replace traditional methods of fashion manufacturing, it enables one to manufacture in a completely new way. The ability to include different material properties and beautiful jewel-like colours in a single print run is absolutely ground-breaking. Like paint on a canvas, this 3D printer is a powerful tool for engineering and creative expression — I cannot wait to see the objects that this technology will enable.

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