How 3D printing is innovating your underwear

Forget about 3D printed furniture, weaponry, pizza, art and jewellery. People have finally started putting additive manufacturing towards creating something in which we are all interested: women’s underwear.

Two stories have come down the pipeline this week that attest to this trend. One involves what might be a truly remarkable step forward for textiles and the manufacturing of healthcare products. The other involves Victoria’s Secret lingerie and American model Lindsay Ellingson.

We’ll be dealing with them in that order so, depending on what kind of mood you are in, you can keep reading about a potentially revolutionary new medial innovation or skip straight to the sexy stuff.

Cosyflex fabric

TamicareSince 2001, Tamar and Ehud Giloh have been working on products to address the common but rarely discussed issue of Menorrhagia – abnormally heavy and prolonged menstrual periods. The Israeli couple, whose R & D, engineering and innovation company, Tamicare, operates from a Manchester HQ, wanted to design disposable, absorbent underwear that would also feel comfortable.

At a textile conference in Denver last month, Tamicare revealed the fruit of all this labour: Cosyflex, a biodegradable, stretchy fabric created by spraying layers of rubber latex polymer and cotton fibre on top of one another. While traditionally, 3D printed garments have been made from a nylon mesh, the Gilohs claim their invention feels just as comfortable on the skin as hand-woven fabric.

Cosyflex will be put to use in a new range of ultra absorbent padded underwear from Tamicare that will hit the shelves in Israel next year. Essentially disposable underpants with a pad in them, the item will be perfect for women looking to avoid leakage during a heavy period.

 

Tamiware 3D printed underwear

 

 

Tamicare can fire off a pair in just 3 seconds and, thanks to additive manufacturing, zero raw material is wasted. Yet Cosyflex has many other possible medical uses too, including compression bandages and cosmetic masks.

All of which, the Gilohs reckon, will add up to big money. As Tamar Giloh puts it:

We set out with a need to solve something and create a product, and then we realized we had developed a totally different and innovative technology. This is a multi-billion-dollar market.

Early signs indicate that she may be right. After the Denver conference, thirty major companies contacted Tamicare regarding the possibility of using Cosyflex in their products, including lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret. Which brings us conveniently to the other big underwear/ 3D printing story of the week…

Victoria’s Secret 3D printed corset hits the runway

Victoria Secrets 3D printingVictoria’s Secret annual runway show is popular amongst buyers of risqué underwear, fans of fashion and men who haven’t yet discovered internet pornography alike. If you are not in any of those groups, you may still want to pencil in its December 10th date as there’ll be something on display for the additive manufacturing enthusiast too.

One of the big attractions at this year’s show are the ‘Snow Angels’ wearing 3D printed corsets, glittering with Swarovski crystals. Leading the line will be ‘Snow Queen’ Lindsay Ellingson, whose body was scanned to make a perfectly fitting corset. 3D printers were then utilised to produce the wings, crown and snowflake motif.

The design is the brainchild of Shapeways’ Bradley Rothenberg. Describing the corset, Rothenberg says:

We’ve seen some 3-D printing in fashion, in the haute couture in Europe. So it’s been very rigid things, very artful things, but nothing that’s been nice to wear. This is the first piece for a mainstream brand—with a focus on the elegant, sensual form—not just rigid and stiff and alien-like. It’s wearable.

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