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3D-printed swimsuit echoes the motion of crashing waves

This swimsuit uses 3D printing to combine sculpture and fashion to create a stunning, one-off garment inspired by water.

Victor Giner Valverde

Fashion designers have done some pretty incredible things with fabric over the years, but 3D printing is bringing something brand new to the table. The garments that designers can create with 3D-printing software and materials can take on a distinctly otherworldly feel.

This swimsuit was designed by Buenos Aires-based Universidad de Palermo Fashion and Textile Design student Nadir Gordon for a class project about the future of fashion. It wouldn't look out of place in sci-fi -- yet it is firmly inspired by terrestrial elements. Specifically, the motion and crashing of waves against the shore. It is from this that the swimsuit gets its name: Waves.

"I began to study the vast world of 3D printing and became fascinated by it, seeing it as an opportunity to create garments and accessories in an innovative way," Gordon told 3DPrint.

Victor Giner Valverde

"Designers like Iris Van Herpen and Francis Bitonti, with their sculpture-like pieces, inspired me to experiment with this technology that provides tools to create volume and shapes that are almost impossible to construct with fabrics and the traditional ways of creating a garment."

Gordon worked with 3D artist Jonathan Guerra to design a model for the swimsuit using 3D software Sketchfab. The finished design was then broken down into 14 pieces, individually printed on Guerra's Makerbot 2 printer using regular PLA filament -- flexible material was unable to cope with the complex forms -- then assembled with a soldering iron.

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This led to some other problems, too: the soldered joins were unstable and broke apart, which meant the swimsuit had to be repaired. In its current state, it is wearable -- but not entirely functional. As an experiment, though, it has given Gordon some idea of what is involved with the process, and what she can try the next time she approaches 3D-printed fashion.

"We certainly would like to do a 2.0 version of this prototype and use all the knowledge I got from this project," she said. "Also seeing the Nervous System's Kinematics Dress gave us a lot of ideas on what to try next."

Victor Giner Valverde