3D Printing in Fashion: The Future of Footwear, Jewelry & Clothing

What is the role of 3D printing in fashion? How are designers using additive manufacturing in their workflows? Read on to find out.

Today, we are witnessing what many are calling the third industrial revolution. 3D printing or additive manufacturing can move us away from the era of mass production and lead to a new reality of customizable custom manufacturing. Fashion is a good example.

In the recent past, fashion houses seemed more like multidisciplinary research institutes. To create a collection of stylish clothes,  you need knowledge in anatomy, advanced sewing machines, appropriate fabrics, accessories, shoes, and people (cutters, seamstresses, models, and many others). Through trial and error, you can create an art object. Creating the object is usually laborious but rarely successful.

However, all this can change thanks to 3D printing. 3D printers allows you to create physical object from a 3D model. The object is usually created in layers.

3D Printing in Fashion

The term “3D printing” is also used generically as a synonym for rapid prototyping. The technology’s applications are endless, from tools and toys to robots and mechanical parts. There is no limit to what a 3D printer can create.

Fashionable, futuristic design requires innovative production technologies. Here, 3D printing can help. A wide selection of fashion accessories (bracelets, rings, brooches, necklaces and pendants) can be easily 3D printed.

Let’s find out how 3D printing technology can be used in the fashion world.

Individual Design

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One of the unique aspects of 3D printing is that it allows designers to create individual shapes and sizes  that would be impossible to manufacture using traditional methods.

Photopolymer 3D printing (resin 3D printing) allows designers to produce products in small batches. Fashion designers can now create one-of-a-kind bold, unique pieces. In addition to time, the technology can significantly reduce costs.


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The range of fashion accessories that can be 3D printed depends more on your imagination. You can easily print various design using a conventional resin 3D printer. Need a flower ring? No problem! 3D printing can help you do this and more.


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Brooches are sophisticated jewelry that highlight your personality. Business women are especially fond of using them to decorate and complement their business suits. For example, Madeleine Albright, the first female US Secretary of State, has, over the years, created a new diplomatic language full of metaphors and secret meanings. Through jewelry, she expresses her mood, intentions or situation in negotiations. Political scientists and journalists vied with each other to interpret the images on the left lapel of her jacket.

3D printing can be used to produce a custom brooch that can complement an image, and perhaps even say something special.


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3D printing can be used to make a prototype ring before it’s made into the final form from precious metals and stones. Through 3D printing, designers can make adjustments quickly and easily to ensure the ring fits perfectly and meets the client’s expectations. In a nutshell, 3D printing helps to save time, money and reduces the likelihood of errors in the final product.

A few years ago, only professional 3D printers costing more than $50,000 were suitable for making jewelry. However, today, with the introduction of inexpensive mono LCD displays with 4K and 8K resolution, such printing is possible for any jeweler and designer. These resin 3D printers cost less than $500.


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Complex bracelets can also be created using photopolymer (resin) or wax 3D printers. You can create an exclusive, one-of-a-kind bracelet that can be mass-produced if needed. Technology allows you to think wider and not be afraid of experimenting with expensive precious metals and stones. After all, modern consumables allow you to create prototypes with a high level of reliability.

Clothes and footwear

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Shoes, dresses and other fashion items can also be printed using 3D printers. You can create ready-made items for wearing. You can also improve the design of the model before launching mass production.

Shoes with geometrically complex 3D designs often hit the fashion mainstream. And for more mundane purposes, there are sneaker soles. For example, Adidas makes them from a polymer resin blend added wit hpolyurethane. The soles are then printed in a lattice structure that helps to distribute the load correctly.

According to Adidas, Futurecraft 4D shoes are distinguished by incredible comfort, as well as unique ergonomics and durability.

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Check the video below about 3D printed shoes:

Along with shoes, there are numerous experiments in the use of 3D printing to create designer outfits and especially dresses.

One of the first 3D printed dresses was presented by American model and singer Dita von Teese in March 2013 in New York. Couturier Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti teamed up with 3D printing service Shapeways to print it using additive manufacturing technology. The dress consisted of 17 nylon pieces that were painted black and encrusted with 13,000 Swarovski stones.

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In 2019, a whole series of such models was presented at the famous Met Gala charity ball in New York. The photo shows American celebrities in outfits with 3D printed elements. Everyone was struck by the dress in the form of a rose petal (center) that the British model Jordan Dunn was wearing at the ceremony.

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The entire collection of dresses was created by fashion designer Zach Posen in collaboration with engineers and 3D printing specialists from GE. The dresses made a splash on the red carpet of the event.

Watch the video below for more insights into the 3D printed dresses:

It is too early to talk about the widespread introduction of 3D printing in the fashion industry. However, it is already clear that this process will continue. Making jewelry to order is not a trend of the future, but of the present. This is a prerequisite for meeting the needs of the customer.

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