3D printing fashion with recycled polyester: A sustainable journey

Grain, Emma ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1366-9796 (2016) 3D printing fashion with recycled polyester: A sustainable journey. Proceedings of the 18th Annual International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes. pp. 371-380.


Textile waste is a global problem and one in which we all must tackle together to minimize. In the UK alone 350,000 tonnes of textile waste go to landfill each year. In order to foster pro environmental behaviours in the household and for it to become part of our culture, recycling awareness must be converted into practice. Bringing together sustainability and innovative technology, the focus of this enquiry, aims to examine, design and manufacturing possibilities using recycled Polyester filament to 3D print fashion garments. This explorative journey will determine whether it is feasible to use this material to create wearable or sculptural fashion pieces, through design, development, sampling and testing whilst using an entirely sustainable material. Recycled PET has been used for many years by outdoors clothing companies such as Patagonia who have been the pioneers of using old polyester clothing and recycling it back into new yarn to make more clothing. Working with Teijin a Japanese high-performance material developer since 2005 they have been able to advance their environmental responsibilities further into more of their products. In this study, the use of rPET will be explored. Since 2010 3D printing has emerged as a new method of manufacture for clothing. This is mainly evident in experimental sculptural forms for women as seen by Iris van Herpen. Likening the development and commercialization of 3D printing in fashion to that of the desktop computer. In the beginning, few could afford or know how to use a PC, in time many improvements made it more affordable, smaller and more commercial. We are at the beginning of this journey with 3D printing in fashion but like the PC, before too long it will be commonplace to all.

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