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Miss South Africa | 3D printed fashion

Posted by Grant Cameron on

Becoming Miss South Africa with 3D printed fashion

For fashion designers, all of the beauty contests are important, especially when it comes to the Miss Pageants. The apparel may help or squander the chances to win the competition. It is the story of how SLS 3D printing technology helped Ciska Barnard, the Bambshell® Swimwear designer create the unique collection for the Miss South Africa finalists.

Bambshell® is an exclusive swimwear label created by Melinda Bam, former Miss South Africa from 2011.

The contestants showed off the Afrocentric Beauty collection which showcases the colorful complexities of African culture in a celebration of color and bold prints. Each print is custom designed for this range and incorporates a mix of ethnic, tribal and modern prints on voluminous capes, juxtaposed against the sleek silhouettes of the swimsuits - says Melinda Bam.

Flowers 3D printed in Selective Laser Sintering technology with Sinterit Lisa 3D printer are soft and comfortable to wear. As the attachment to the swimwear, they needed the flexibility and lightness of the second skin. Thanks to the properties of TPU material called Flexa Black it was possible to achieve very smooth and comfortable to wear surfaces.

How it started

Fashion was always flirting with the technology, thanks to which it could develop and spread over the world. As people started to sew approximately 20,000 years ago, until the 19th century, it was time-consuming, hand-made process. That is why ladies in the 18th century had only a few clothes in their wardrobes. Not more than two dresses. The invention of the sewing machines completely changed the perspective and reduced the time consumption. But the fabrics weren't changing for more than 150 years. Just after the WWII, international trade conflict which involved the US and Asia countries brought the specter of stopping supplies of the basic fabrics. That lead to synthetic materials innovation, so prevalent in a disco era in the eighties. But now we are watching the return to nature, to sustainable materials. Designers are devoted to the best fabrics and are sometimes stopped by its properties. Some shapes can't be done from the natural textures. 3D printing seems to be the best solution.

From a costume to ready-to-wear fashion

While thinking about 3D printing in fashion, we still remember a lot of outer worlds looking, haute couture costumes, but ready-to-wear propositions are not so familiar. Why is that? For many years technological limitations stopped designers from joining this technology on a broader scale. The most common, and cheapest 3D printers that operate in FDM technology ware limited to the quite stiff materials. Even flexible filaments weren't cloth-like. That is why clothes made from it looked a little bit like armors. On the other hand, SLS technology capable of printing from more flexible materials was too expensive even to try.  Everything changed in 2014 when SLS patent expired, and first desktop printers operating in this advanced technology appeared on the market. Thanks to devices like Sinterit Lisa it is now possible to print such detailed and small objects like flowers that can be attached to swimwear.

Fashion needs flexibility

Most of our clients use hard materials like PA12. It becomes a standard for a broad range of industries. But fashion needs more flexible solutions - says Konrad Głowacki, one of the Sinterit Co-Founders. - It is not so easy to find a dependable, flexible material that would be a perfect match for the fashion industry and available for 3D printers. But as several years ago only a few people believed that SLS technology could become a desktop solution, available for every company, now we would like to go forward with the range of materials. After months of testing, we are happy to provide two reliable products: Flexa Black and Flexa Gray -  adds Głowacki.

New era to come

As the fashion designer's workshop didn't change much since the Coco Chanel era, the new skills like 3D design are getting more and more required. The best universities are opening new courses with digital classes such as Introduction to CAD/CAM or 3D design and printing. And it will develop even more.

Twenty years ago nobody thought that people would buy music files and download them to their computers, rather than visit the music shop to get the new CD. In the nearest future, the same could happen to the fashion industry. If not for the entire collections, then for at least some accessories.

This project was possible thanks to Build Volume, a company which is all about bringing 3D printing into the life of regular people and undoubtedly one of the most important 3D printing spots in South Africa.  

Due to the fast development of 3D printers, 3D scanners, and modeling software, 3D printing is becoming more and more exciting and affordable for personal users. With 3D printing, "everything" is possible - says Don Vermeulen, the CEO of Build Volume and a person who personally printed the flowers for the Bambshell collection on Sinterit Lisa 3D printer.

His company offers a steadily growing selection of everything you need for your own 3D printing projects.

Now, thanks to the office-size Sinterit Lisa, it is possible to use this most sophisticated 3D laser sintering technology in the accessible and affordable way. With the SLS technology, it is possible to print almost every shape in one piece, both from hard and also soft material. The company has experience in other fashion applications and just launched Sinterit Lisa Pro, even more advanced 3d printer - if you want to try your creative designs, reserve the product on the website.

About Sinterit

Sinterit is the first manufacturer of desktop selective laser sintering 3D printers, with a mission to accelerate the world’s development by giving access to innovative 3D printing SLS technology. It has a focus on ease of use, versatility and availability, so that tomorrow can happen today. The company, founded by former Google employees with experience in the industry since 2014, delivers reliable, high-precision printers to customers around the world. During its three years on the market, Sinterit LISA has printed thousands of 3D products. For more information visit or follow @Sinterit on Facebook, Twitter or watch our new film on YouTube.


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