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3D printing brings Met Gala creations to life

One of the world’s leading fashion designers has collaborated with Protolabs and GE Additive to showcase a range of 3D printed sculptural garments and accessories at fashion’s ‘biggest night out’.

Zac Posen, who has designed dresses for Uma Thurman, Michelle Obama and Rihanna, used this year’s Met Gala to highlight the growing influence of additive manufacturing in the world of fashion by displaying a breathtaking 3D printed clear bustier.

Worn by actress Nina Dobrev, the garment was created using Protolabs’ expertise in stereolithography and was inspired by the concept of freezing natural objects in motion.

The three-way collaboration involved manufacturing experts at the company’s UK and German facilities, as well as a team of engineers from GE Additive.

Zac Posen said: “The Met Gala is special for designers because it’s the biggest fashion event in the world. This year it is particularly special because we’re working with GE Additive and Protolabs to 3D print ideas that are unachievable using fabric. For me, science, engineering and art all work together. That’s why standing at the forefront of 3D printing is so important.”

Daniel Cohn, General Manager of Protolabs, said: “In a fashion project like this, 3D printing gives designers almost complete creative freedom. Designers are no longer limited by traditional manufacturing processes, where a project would be curtailed by questions like ‘can a part be cut to this shape’ or ‘can it suspend itself under its own weight’. What we have here is a very pure design process, from concept to physical part.

“With 3D printing you can really increase the complexity of parts whilst also reducing weight. This is important for the mass customisation we’re seeing in the fashion industry, as well as industries like aerospace, where weight reduction is an important driver towards fuel savings.”

Posen’s complete range of garments and accessories was 3D printed by Protolabs’ global operation, utilising the company’s manufacturing facilities in the UK, Europe and the US. The range also included a rose gown worn by English model Jourdan Dunn, an embroidery gown worn by actress Deepika Padukone, a palm shoulder accessory worn by actress Katie Holmes, and a head piece worn by actress Julia Garner.

Protolabs is the world's fastest digital manufacturing source for custom prototypes and low-volume production parts.

The technology-enabled company, which operates from a state-of-the-art facility in Telford, uses advanced 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding technologies to produce parts within days. The result is an unprecedented speed-to-market value for product designers and engineers worldwide.

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