Futuristic designer Continuum Fashion and 3D printing experts Shapeways have teamed up to bring you the world’s first commercially available 3D-printed bikini.
The innovative manufacturing process used to print each bikini eliminates the need for middleman suppliers, and allows for cheaper prices and improved efficiency. The swimsuit has no stitching, no closure hooks, and secures onto the body using circular components that easily snap together. Named the “N12? bikini, this sci-fi swimwear demonstrates the potential of 3D printing as a viable manufacturing technology.
The N12 is named after nylon 12, a strong yet flexible material that can be printed as thin as 0.7 millimeters without breaking. (It’s also waterproof, with a texture said to resemble seashell when wet.) Designers Mary Huang and Jenna Fizel, who previously created an app that turns any drawing into a dress, designed their sexy number by modifying Rhino 3D CAD, a computational software normally used by architects and industrial designers.
The bikini comprises circular plates, each varying in size based on the curvature of the would-be wearer’s form.
Using a process known as select laser sintering—or SLS, for short—the bikini materializes through a series of circular plates, each varying in size based on the curvature of the would-be wearer’s form. First, a thin layer of nylon powder is laid out onto a platform within a preheated chamber, based on information determined by the CAD file. The laser then melts (or “sinters”) the tiny nylon particles into a solid mass.
What isn’t fused by the lasers remains as powder, and the sequence is repeated to build the form layer by layer. When all the layers are complete, the excess nylon powder is removed and collected for reuse.