When I first heard about 3D printing, I thought it was a joke. As I listened to a story about it on NPR one October morning, I honestly thought that maybe it was April Fool’s Day.
But it’s not a joke and it’s not April Fool’s Day, and yet 3D printing still seems like something from the future.
With a 3D printer, you can produce three-dimensional solid objects of virtually any shape from a digital model. And it’s being done as we speak—the technology is used in jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering, construction, automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many other fields.
So, why am I talking about some weird technology on a style and beauty blog? Because 3D printing will change everything we currently know about clothing, shopping and design.
How will it work? As far as I understand, it goes like this: first you will pick out your favorite summer dress color cartridge and then load it into your printer. Next, you will check to make sure your printer is stocked with proper materials (thread mostly). Then, you will (digitally) tell the printer some commands regarding the design of your dress, and press go. Ta-da, new dress!
The process won’t stop there though. When you’re done with the dress, you will put it back in the printer. The printer will unravel the dress, clean the thread, and patiently wait to reconstruct a new garment. You can’t get much more sustainable than that.
Rumor has it 3D printing for clothing in the home won’t be available until 2050. At least that gives me some time to wrap my head around this crazy concept.