the RECYCLED 3D printing world

The 3D printing world – Additive Manufacturing Technology (AR) – is truly magical as it is the result of countless technology sectors combined in a result to enhance greater functionality beyond the initial intention of just prototyping. It’s a constantly growing global market and is predicted to reach $16.2 billion by 2018. The phenomenon of the 3D printing world is a never-ending discovery of ways in which we can improve today’s manufacturing industry and enhance the evolution of a SUSTAINABLE WORLD. With it’s ongoing countless advancements, the future is turning out to be just one big science fiction movie, however the course of that sci-fi movie is truly up to us. The prediction of such a society in which ‘almost anything’ can be made with a 3D printer is noted by robotics engineer Hod Lipson and technology writer Melba Kurman in their book Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing.

“Place: Your life
Time: A few decades from now
. . . even in the future, it’s still hard to get up in the morning. The smell of freshly baked whole wheat blueberry muffins wafts from the kitchen food printer… “

Through my discovery of this incredible technology, thoughts and ways in ways in which we could benefit from such an invention came to mind. The possibility of this invention taking over the manufacturing industry is highly likely and is sparking interest with futurists such as technology trend expert Jack Uldrich, where he poses the idea that our world today may be completely unrecognisable in the course of the next 100 years. With replicas of organs such as the kidney and heart and the notion of printing edible meats, Uldrich states that soon companies will be using 3D printing to manufacture goods domestically, with virtually no wasted material and no need for international sourcing.

For a second, imagine a conversation with your future grandkids and picture our world compared to theirs… As of today, in a cows lifetime they are fed 10,000 pounds of grain and 20,000 gallons of water. Then goes the costs of slaughtering, shipping and packaging. None of this I can even fathom. When compared to a world in which 3D printing food is the common day-to-day regime, you’re grandkids perhaps may say that the world we live in is… crAAAzy!! 

The initial hype of 3D printing however doesn’t take into account the ramifications of ethical use through the public. The conversation of 3D printed guns is where this stems from, as the laws for 3D printing to not extend the printers capabilities as of tomorrow. However, the Senior Policy Analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington, Daniel Castro, believes in the potential benefits of 3D printing on society… “If you can print out food, components of homes, body parts as we age, it points to a really interesting future… We’ll be treating animals in a humane way, rewriting the rules of society.” This strikes true, as I believe 3D printing has the potential to bring out the good of human nature, leading to a prosperous future of the world, reversing countless damage that has already been done on and to this earth.

“Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” – Coco Chanel

As an artist, (yes, that’s me calling myself an artist over here), I am strongly attracted and influenced by the evolving arts and fashion world and am deeply captivated by the introduction of 3D printed fashion into this sector. My previous blog post explored a simplified background to 3D printed fashion and also highlighted my personal endeavours for it’s advancement – to create fashion from recycled plastic waste! By reusing and recycling the plastic waste we have dispatched onto this earth, I hope to shine light and inspire other people like myself, to start experimenting with its flexible diameters and initiate a world in which waste is brought back to manufacturers and recycled again for use – an ongoing cycle! Check back on this link to see an Instagram page following my progress!

The way in which the fashion world of today operates is vastly disappointing in my eyes, as traditional clothing manufacturing is 1) wasteful, and 2) environmentally damaging. However, I’m not the only one who is questioning the outmoded 19th century techniques and processes of the textile industry. The Yeh Group, which consists of experts in the Loughborough Design School have already began developing 3D technology that could revolutionise and improve energy and resource efficiency of the clothing industry, by producing finished garments directly from raw material in a single manufacturing operation. We’re getting somewhere people! To put it simply, the carbon footprint on clothing consumption is huge and is estimated by the Loughborough University to be a massive 38 million tonnes, with an additional 1.8 million tonnes of waste material and 6.3 billion m3 of water usage – which is sited in water-poor countries. China produces most of the world’s textiles and in the year 2010 alone produced 41 million tonnes of fibre and 3 billion tonnes of air pollution. The argument for 3D printing is that it can eliminate this waste, pollution, CO2 emissions and labour costs, whilst also encouraging local clothing manufacturing and production.

In today’s textiles industry we are still implementing 19th century techniques that involve slave labour, waste in relation to garment assembly and harmful by-products resulting from dyeing and fabric preparation. Through ethical thought and sustainable thinking, the industry would benefit from Additive Manufacturing Technology as it helps to reduce pollutants and waste whilst also meeting the ongoing demand for fashion being produced in ethically sustainable method.

Being a student, the demand for sustainable clothing is not always at your doorstep. By starting an Instagram where I showcase the development of sustainable fashion through the use of the University of Wollongong’s Maker Space, I hope to successfully recycle used plastics – such as bottle caps – into filament that can be used in any 3D printer to turn into fashion. I will also go on to show how we can then recycle our ‘bottle cap’ t-shirt and turn it into filament that will be used to make your next pair of shoes or those sunglasses you’ve been craving. Design Senior Lecturer Dr. Guy Bingham sums it up nicely, “[3D printing] allows us as designers to innovate faster and create personalised, ready-to-wear fashion in a digital world with no geometrical constraints and almost zero waste material.”


Lipson, H. & Kurman, M. Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing (Wiley, 2013).I. Gibson, D.W. Rosen, and B. Stucker, Additive Manufacturing Technologies, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-1120-9_2, # Springer ScienceþBusiness Media, LLC 2010

Grunewald S.J, 3D Fashion: New Research Projects Wants the Fashion of the Future to be 3D printed, 3DR Holdings, LLC 2018.


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s