Sainte-Catherine University researchers create durable 3D printed fashion accessories


Like London Fashion Week coming to an end, designers and critics are soaking up the latest trends. Researchers from Sainte-Catherine University in Minnesota, are also exploring how new technologies such as 3D printing can create innovative garments that minimize waste.

This discoveries, published in SpringerOpen, detailed durable 3D printed accessories such as pendants, buttons and necklaces. The study states that “zero waste is a philosophy focused on the design and management of products and processes to avoid and systematically eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, while conserving all resources”.

“3D printing has already proven to be an economical and cost effective means for prototyping and manufacturing, [thus, it] has the potential to redefine the supply chain of the ready-to-wear industry.

Sustainable 3D printed jewelry

Among the two researchers of this study, two methods using 3D printing were explored for zero waste fashion accessories also called “trendy notions”. The first researcher created a cape and made an effort to design buttons (notions) using 3D printing technology (FFF), while the second created pendants and earrings. Stereolithography (SLA) is also a common method for making jewelry that is 3D printed with fine detail.

Both processes used modeling tools such as Rhinoceros 5 and Tinkercad, as well as a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer and PLA filament. The study added, “While most studies have focused on materials and equipment research, these data reflect a new concern in efforts to reduce waste and further disrupt already disruptive technology.”

a) Jewelry pendant design 1 (PLA filament in blue color). b) Design jewelry pendant 1 with earrings. c) Enlarged view of the jewelry pendant design. Image of Université Sainte-Catherine.

Rhinoceros 5 CAD was used to create the designs for the pendants. As each pendant design differed, printing times ranged from 40 minutes to one hour and 18 minutes. Additionally, the second research used a gold paint finish for two pendants to replicate metallic jewelry.

Each pendant has been designed to include a variety of curves, points, thicknesses and textures. The first researcher’s 3D printed buttons used a design without the use of rafts and brackets, eliminating material waste. Overall, the researchers produced five designs of pendant necklaces, two designs of earrings, and nine layered designed buttons.

The buttons were then attached to a draped cape design using 95% of the fabric. According to the team, “There is tremendous potential for using this disruptive technology to design and create unique, sustainable (zero waste) garments made on demand.”

Jewelry pendant in white PLA filament and brush painted with gold paint.  Photo via Université Sainte-Catherine.
Jewelry pendant in white PLA filament and brush painted with gold paint. Photo via Université Sainte-Catherine.

Exploring 3D printing to create sustainable zero waste fashion and jewelryIs co-written by Anupama Pasricha and Rachel Greeninger.

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The image shown shows a white PLA filament jewelry pendant and a brush painted with gold paint. Photo via Université Sainte-Catherine.



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