Event Recap: Fashion, Technology & The Internet; Part 1 - 3D Printing

I've been receiving invitations for the fashion seminar that Cowan, Leibowitz & Latman host annually in June for the past few years, but never managed to make it for scheduling (or the early start time!) reasons. This year, after recently signing a new client in the startup/tech space, I decided to set my alarm clock and check it out.  

The event is hosted at The Harvard Club in Midtown, which if you've never been, is exactly how you might imagine it: dark wood, somber furniture, out of another era. So it was a comfy room with a nice breakfast spread and excellent coffee, much needed!

Just when I was wondering if it was all a big mistake and waste of precious beauty sleep, the program commenced with William M. Borchard's presentation on 3D Printing, and it was actually pretty informative. He gave an overview with visuals of the basic process:

 Dita Von Teese wearing the custom 3D-printed dress designed for her by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti. Photo credit: Albert Sanchez via New York Times

Dita Von Teese wearing the custom 3D-printed dress designed for her by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti. Photo credit: Albert Sanchez via New York Times

  • There are 2 types of 3D printers currently on the market: filament and powder/granular. Filament printers use strands of nylon and are used more for fashion/textiles while granular printers use a powder (plastic, metal) to build the result. For a great visual and article on the amazing, lace-like, form-fitting things you can do with textiles check out this recent article in the NY Times
  • The original CAD design gets turned into what's called a blueprint, and that's the valuable asset as it can be re-used by anyone who gets their hands on it
  • Currently on the market are "desktop" models that run in the thousands and industrial models that companies like Shapeways use

My takeaways on this segment:

Benefits

  • Unlimited possibilities for creativity & customization
  • Cost-efficient way to create prototypes (no waste, no required inventory to test)
  • Reduced distribution costs (production can be on-demand)
  • Flexibility in regards to customer modification requests

Challenges

  • Currently, sizing is an issue as a separate blueprint must be created for each size variation
  • Counterfeit manufacturing (ability to bypass customs & overseas shipping)
  • Weapons manufacture (eek!)

Intellectual Property / Legal Issues

  • Unauthorized reproduction of existing designs and objects
  • Unauthorized sharing of blueprints
  • Technology is way ahead of the law, as there is no current legislation or precedent for 3D printing in the context of design patents, copyright law or trademark

To keep up to date on the latest innovations in 3D printing, check out printingdress.com

Stay tuned for the next recap post of this event, all you ever wanted to know about Generic Top Level Domains (GTLD) and Second Level Domains (SLD)!