We have created the first dress with Kinematics, our 4D printing system for generating complex, foldable forms. The Museum of Modern Art has acquired the dress along with the software that created it for their permanent collection. Composed of thousands of unique interlocking components, the dress was 3D printed as a single folded piece at the Shapeways factory in New York City and required no assembly. The Kinematics Dress represents a new approach to manufacturing which tightly integrates design, simulation, and digital fabrication to create complex, customized products.
Bodies are 3-dimensional but clothing is traditionally made from flat material that is cut and painstakingly pieced together. In contrast, Kinematics garments are created in 3D, directly from body scans and require absolutely no assembly. We employ a smart folding strategy to compress Kinematics garments into a smaller form for efficient fabrication. By folding the garments prior to printing them, we can make complex structures larger than a 3D printer that unfold into their intended shape automatically.
The custom-fit dress is an intricately patterned structure of 2,279 unique triangular panels interconnected by 3,316 hinges, all 3D printed as a single piece in nylon. While each component is rigid, in aggregate, they behave as a continuous fabric allowing the dress to flexibly conform and fluidly flow in response to body movement. Unlike traditional fabric, this textile is not uniform; it varies in rigidity, drape, flex, porosity and pattern through space. The entire piece is customizable, from fit and style to flexibility and pattern, with Kinematics Cloth our first app for clothing.
Below, we discuss the dress in more detail and the tools we created to generate it: Kinematics Cloth and Kinematics Fold.
video: the making of the Kinematics dress
This video was filmed at Shapeways 3D printing factory in New York City on the day the dress emerged from the printer.
a wearable dress
The Kinematics Dress is a technical achievement but its also an article of clothing. We designed it with comfort and durability in mind, aiming to make a 3D-printed garment that you can actually wear, one that invites movement instead of constraining it.
Watch the video below to see how the dress moves.
Kinematics Cloth | world’s first 3D printed clothing app?!?
The dress design was created in Kinematics Cloth, a web application where people can design custom-fit 3D garments by sketching and sculpting in real time. A variety of clothing items can be created in the app including dresses, skirts and shirts. Users can sculpt the silhouette and hemline of their garment and determine the pattern of the garment’s tessellated fabric structure. Kinematics Cloth further expands the design system we introduced with last year’s Kinematics and Kinematics @ home apps.
The design system uses an adaptive remeshing technique to allow a user to design a pattern of modules in real time with an intuitive painting interfacing. While these complex structures would be difficult and time consuming to create in traditional CAD modelling, the Kinematics app makes it accessible to anyone.
on the body
Kinematics Cloth builds garments to your exact measurements. Using parametric body modelling technology from BodyLabs, you can import your body into the app. Clothing designs created on in Kinematics Cloth can be adapted to any body shape.
Kinematics Fold | simulation tool for compressing kinematics designs
Clothing designs generated in Kinematics Cloth are too large to fit in a 3D printer. In order to make them printable, we compress them with Kinematics Fold, our simulation tool for Kinematics designs. The Kinematics Dress was compressed by 85% by folding it in half twice.
Kinematics Fold uses rigid body physics to accurately model the behavior of the structures generated by Kinematics Cloth. The simulation uses the Open Dynamics Engine (ODE) solver to reproduce the behavior of the physical object with each module represented as a simplified triangular shape connected to each other by idealized hinges. Rather than trying to find an optimal fold for a given structure, which would be computationally intractable, the software mimics how one might physically fold a garment in real life. Each garment goes through a series of collisions designed heuristically to reduce the overall size in an intuitive manner.
Even this approximate approach is quite computationally intensive and encounters many difficulties. Geometry has direct impact on how well an object can fold. Areas with negative Gaussian curvature have a lot of movement but areas with high Gaussian curvature are naturally more rigid, preventing compression. Also, the network of hinges between rigid bodies is densely interconnected which causes numerical problems. Not only does the computation required greatly increase with the number of hinges, but the error of the entire system also increases.
Our latest version of Kinematics Fold can compress designs with thousands of interlocking pieces into 3D-print-ready configurations.
The dress was produced with the generous support of Shapeways at their factory in New York City. It was 3D-printed in nylon by Selective Laser Sintering over a span of approximately 48 hours. We traveled to NYC to watch the dress emerge from the 3D printer. We observed as two masked technicians slowly excavated the folded dress from a huge block of nylon powder. Afterwards, they blasted it with air to remove the loose powder from its joints and surface. The experience was stressful and full of suspense. While we watched and waited, we were wondering if our idea would actually work. Would the dress be able to unfold?
We felt both relief and satisfaction when the print unfolded into a wearable gown! Our friend Lana joined us at the factory to try the dress on and give it a test run down what could be the world’s most expensive runway, a corridor lined with industrial 3D printers.
We would like to specially thank some of the people who made this possible.
Eric Rachlin and Paul Melnikow at BodyLabs for their incredible parametric body modeller
Paola Antonelli and Paul Galloway at MoMA for acquiring our dress!
Duann Scott and Shapeways for fabricating the dress!
Lana and John Briscella for moral support and last-minute dress wearing
Andrew Robertson for filming the dress emergence at Shapeways
Steve Marsel for photographing the dress in action
Larosey for taking the dress for a spin
You can read more about the dress and the tools we made to create it on the Kinematics Dress project page.