When people think of 3D printing, they typically have in mind high-tech mechanical or medical devices, but this technology offers much broader potential than one might suppose.

Fashion designer Michael Schmidt and architect Francis Bitonti have created what they describe as “the first fully articulated gown” using computer modeling and 3D printing. Articulated in this context means “jointed and moveable,” a feature of the gown enabled by the nature of its “fabric,” which is similar to a fine mesh with thousands of individual joints. The gown was printed in large sections by the 3D printing experts at Shapeways, then dyed, assembled, and adorned with 12,000 tiny Swarovsky crystals.

In a short video, Schmidt describes the process involved in bringing his vision to reality (see below). He explains:

The beauty of this technology is that you can create forms that are unimaginable—uncreatable—in any other way. The human hand can only do so much before you need technological intervention. This technology allows you to create items that are limited solely by your imagination . . . incredible, magical things.

Schmidt here aptly identifies the central function of technology in human life: It extends the abilities of the human mind to act in the world beyond the physical limitations of our unassisted bodies.

Congratulations to Schmidt, Bitoni, and their team for this remarkable achievement. It’s exciting to see the expansion of 3D printing into new fields, especially when done so exquisitely.


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Image: Albert Sanchez Photography

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