Will we remember the 2016 as the start year for the Fashion Industry to embrace 3D printing? January 2016: During the Pitti Filati event, Linea Più Italia and Maglificio Miles announced the NeTTA – New Technology for textile application, the idea to mix traditional fabric filament with 3D printed structures (filaments and other).
October 2016: few days ago another unexpected but very exciting announcement has been made by one of the most well known Italian brand: Benetton.
The new from Benetton has the potential of a game changer, cause involves the end product (the one that each of us can buy every day) and a large retail chain.
Benetton adopted the Whole Garment Technology from Shima Seiki in order to start the production of a new pullover, single wire, seamless, quality yarn (90% merino wool and 10% cashmere), six colors (black, green, brick red, blue, purple, yellow), fully Made in Italy.
Can we consider this a 3D printed product?
I don’t want to open an academic discussion on which 3D printing definition is or should be or if we can consider the Benetton product a 3D printed item.
I am just thinking at the benefits, at the value and at the greater sustainability that 3D Printing paradigm can generate versus the traditional manufacturing model. And in my opinion, considering those, we can consider the Whole Garment Technology to be the 3D printing of traditional fabrics at the current state of the art. Same value, same advantages, same benefits, same problems on how to configure new successfull business models.
No matter if it is not “Additive” Manufacturing or if it does not use a laser to melt a powder.
It matters much that everything starts with a CAD drawing, a machine that is able to interpret the CAD file and that at the end of its work, the machine produces the finished product. That’s what matters.
Moreover, the Benetton announcement also definitely confirms that:
- The 3D Printing can be even a mass production technology platform in some cases:
- The 3D printing open the doors to a huge number of new innovative possibilities when you re-think your products and their functionalities
- The Fashion industry will be inevitably the next (but not the last) victim of the fourth industrial revolution
You can bet it: in 2030 (15 years from now), the Fashion Industry will not be the same as of today.
And 3D printing is not the only innovation that will affect this industry.
Body Scanning will change how products will be tailored and sold, the Virtual Reality and the shop high digitalization will open scenarios of high tech retailers, sensors and wearable technologies will change and will improve the functional architecture of our clothes, biomaterials and new printable materials will give us a richer portfolio of possibilities to create high performing fabrics and sportswear with superior performances.
And I am quite sure that additional yet unknown surprises are behind the door.