Nervous System has been churning - er, printing - out incredibly complex, lightweight, and nature-inspired jewelry and accessories since 2007. Recently, however, the Somerville-based company has added clothing to the mix with their new line, Kinematics, which boasts a bodice and a dress, as well as accessories like the Tetra 175n necklace.
The dress, which weighs about 5lbs, is made up of over 2,000 parts printed onto a single piece of nylon, and is made-to-measure from a body scan. As the name suggests, it moves beautifully, flowing almost as freely as a more traditional material like silk, cotton, or just about anything else that is commonly associated with clothing (until now) would.
But it's not all smooth sailing just yet. Nervous System co-founder and Creative Director Jessica Rosenkrantz spoke to a New York Times reporter about some of the challenges of 3D printing, saying that ultimately, printed clothing still has a long way to go, from the point of view of designers, makers and wearers.
“The materials that you can 3-D-print are not particularly comfortable. You need different materials, things that are softer and better approximate fabric. You also need cheaper machines,” she told the NYT's Dorian Geiger.
Nervous System's machine cost roughly $1 million dollars, and designing each piece that makes up the dress took about a year. But that was the hard part; the actual creation of the dress is print and go. "The garments that we've designer can only expand to their full size after being removed from the printer and they do so automatically, no assembly is required, " Rosenkrantz told Dezeen.
MoMa aquired the first Kinematic's dress for its collection in 2013, but the plan is for tech-loving fashionistas to have a museum-worthy piece hanging in their own closets in the near future. Dresses will be priced and printed by special request only, but smaller items (that presumably take less time - the dress took 48 hours to print!) like miniskirts, jewelry, and neckties will be available to shop online, a rep from Nervous System told commentors on their website.
The immediate and long-term effects of printable fashion on the fashion industry are unimaginable, not to mention on the global economy - printable clothing could really eliminate (or exacerbate) the problem of unsafe and unfair conditions for garment workers. While it could cut out a lot of jobs, it could also mean affordable clothing that doesn't put any lives at risk could be a new norm.
Hear that? That's the sound of Nervous System dropping the mike.