Responsive Wearables as Transmission Conduits for Tech-Assisted Bodies
3d-printed wearable 'Ruff' is anything but—explores how smart fabrics can be responsive to wearer's body
Ruff is a conceptual design project that features 3D-printed responsive wearable fabrics. The project was developed by interaction designer and architect, Behnaz Farahi, and fashion designer, Pauline van Dongen, in order to explore how future wearable materials can be imbued with responsive and dynamic properties, possessing almost life-like movement and behaviors.
Ruff was developed in Los Angeles as part of a three-week collaboration at will.iam’s 3D Systems’ printing studio facilities.
Farahi and van Dongen wanted to demonstrate how 3D printing can play an important part in fashion. They believe that if fashion designers were to augment their designs to encompass technology that heightened sensory experience, they may find new ways to design apparel, allowing them to serve as transmission conduits between the physical body and technology connected to the wearer’s life.
In essence, the neurological signals sent throughout the wearer’s body could speak to the device or physical world it’s connected to. It could also relay information to the wearer about their physical state and intuitively adjust to meet the wearer’s needs.
Farahi and van Dongen believe we should enhance the interaction between our bodies and surrounding environment. So, together, they brought Ruff to life using 3D-printing technologies. The designers followed a rigorous, hands-on process whereby 3D-printed samples were continuously tested on the body for anatomical accuracy.
Constrained by the rigid and fragile 3D-printing materials available to them, Farahi and van Dongen found that structures in the form of a spring proved surprisingly flexible. Therefore, Ruff took the form of a folded coil or spiral that could flow with the movement of the body. Farahi and van Dongen also explored various topologies and surface modifications in order to enhance the aesthetic expression of the spiraling form, as well as to control the types of motion it could achieve when wrapped around the body.
The design was fabricated with 3D Systems’ ProJet 3500 HD Max printer, which uses FMD (fused deposition modeling) printing technology to print solid plastics encased in wax support material. To solve for the bed size limitation of a 3D printer, the designers twisted the spirals within one another to make the most efficient use of the available space. Nitinol springs were incorporated into the design to actuate the contracting or expanding motion of the 3D-printed spiral. This resulted in a breathing-like, organic entity that would seemingly crawl over the body.
Farahi and van Dongen believe that the idea of responsive systems could address numerous design challenges, especially considering how emerging technologies are capable of amplifying the performative qualities of fabrics.