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What Fashion Brands Should Be Aware Of When Embracing 3D Printing

NOOKA debuts line of 3D-printed timepieces with a great perspective on the emerging manufacturing method.

Plus Aziz
Plus Aziz on January 10, 2014. @plusaziz

We’ve been monitoring NOOKA’s bold design work as they have grown throughout the years and how they, as an accessories brand, have embraced a fashion-forward approach for the 21st century.

They recently formed an alliance with Cubify, an e-commerce destination focusing on 3D printed lifestyles and 3D Systems that enable consumers to custom design their watches, a collaboration that fuses modern manufacturing technology with mainstream fashion. These 3 companies have coordinated to create a line of sustainable, 3D-printed timepieces with bands are interchangeable between watch faces.

Whilst the collaboration is a bold step forward into the future of consumer-led manufacturing, NOOKA’s founder Matthew Waldman is not uncritical of the excitement behind 3D printing. He articulated his point of view on the 3D printing revolution in an interview where he admitted that, while 3D printing is part of an industrial revolution, he believes that the revolution itself lies elsewhere:

“Without a revolution in energy production, 3D printing will be limited to high-end products and industrial products because of the time and energy costs used to produce pieces this method… these straps are printed in nylon, which is wonderful for its resiliency and durability, but it not as flexible as we would like. The design is intentionally more bracelet than strap to address this issue, it’s a very comfortable ergonomic design. In a few years, there will be more choices in material that make sense for a product like this.”

He goes on to mention that new paradigms in manufacturing must help small companies exercise more optimized economies of scale when it comes to logistical services (i.e. provision of materials, delivery to consumers). Indeed, energy and distribution solutions need to be introduced in order for 3D printing to take off in a big way. This will be particularly important for niche brands that are looking to offer increasingly differentiated products and business models that are reflective of consumer values that emphasize ecological soundness and increased personalization.

Sources: NOOKA, 3D Systems, DesignBoom

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