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Anouk Wipprecht’s 3D Printed Mind-Reading Dress Builds Up Like an IKEA Kit

Our team at Shapeways has worked with over one million customers in helping to bring their designs to life; however, never has that been so true—or quite as literal—upon 3D printing the latest work of famed high-tech fashion architect, Anouk Wipprecht. The Dutch designer, still heavily engaged in the realm of FashionTech (as wearables and technology converge), continues to bring a whole new meaning to getting dressed up, with help no longer necessary for getting ‘zipped up’ in the back, but rather getting everything hooked together from the scalp downward.

Reaching far into the depths of mammalian physiology, as well as neurotechnology, Wipprecht has been collaborating with the Institute for Integrated Circuits at JKU / Johannes Kepler University Linz and g.tec (a medical technology company from Austria) to create an animatronic dress that also reacts to human brain waves.

Anouk Wipprecht working on the Pangolin dress
Designer Anouk Wipprecht assembling the Pangolin dress using 3D printed parts. Photo source: Anouk Wipprecht

“The dress is printed out of nine parts. Together with
collaborator on this project and 3D specialist Igor Knezevic from Los Angeles,
we have been working on the dress and little connector parts,” explains Wipprecht.

Most of Wipprecht’s dresses (harkening back to the Spider Dress with an array of sensors, as well as the Intimacy 2.0 dress which becomes more revealing as desire increases) have been manufactured with 3D printed upper parts. For her latest dress, the visionary designer sought to create new fashion that was not only body hugging, but also suggested the complicated form of an exoskeleton with electronics ‘hosted on the 3D printed legs of the dress.’

The Pangolin dress assembled with 3D printed parts and electronics. Photo source: Anouk Wipprecht

“I worked with Anouk on several of her projects and it is always a great learning experience,” said Igor Knezevic. “The difference in this particular project is that I used Blender3D to do design and modeling of the whole piece, where in the past I usually would use 3D Studio MAX.”

“Blender evolved a lot in recent years and now has some
distinctive abilities related to 3DP workflow, such as very good Boolean
procedurals enabling some advanced geometries to be able to be created in one
piece. But yes, in the end, the whole piece was divided in symmetrical parts to
be able to fit it into printing volume.”

A 3D render of the Pangolin dress. Photo source: Anouk Wipprecht

Ultimately, the 3D
printed dress lights up in a display of brain data, surpassing novelties of the
70s like the mood ring by about 86 billion neurons. While the electroencephalogram (EEG) is
usually associated with complex medical procedures meant to examine head
injuries or test for serious disorders, here Wipprecht brings us to the
intersection of brainwaves and glamorous garments produced via digital
fabrication, culminating in what she has named the Pangolin Scales Project.

Since humans
discovered the idea of covering themselves up in creative ways, fashion has
been one of the most basic ways to express oneself. And while wearing fur coats
may not be socially acceptable in most evolved circles today, with technology
like 3D printing (and 4D printing in many cases too, with materials morphing to
their environment or user requirements), designers now have unlimited options
open to them for dressing everyone from svelte runway models to the average
consumer looking for affordability, accessibility, and most importantly—comfort.
The Pangolin dress is a far cry from normal haute couture or any type of
clothing though, integrating a new spin on the EEG too, which usually consists
of metal electrodes being applied to the scalp in a sterile clinical setting.

Individual parts of the Pangolin dress, 3D printed using the SLS technology. Photo source: Anouk Wipprecht

“The PA-11 + PA-12 combination and printing in Stereolithography (SLS) makes the dress both architecturally stunning I think, but also as light as possible,” says Wipprecht. “Developing this dress with 64 actuators (32 servo motors, 32 LEDs) I was a bit afraid of the final weight of the dress, but I was super excited once I integrated all the servo motors and LED’s and wires within the 3D printed mounts, that the dress has a very comfortable weight ratio—all due to the SLS technique in PA-11 / PA-12 combination.”

As the name of
the project would suggest, the futuristic dress was inspired by the small
animal usually found in Africa or Asia. The pangolin subsists on fare like ants
and termites and many may be surprised to hear that it is also one of the most
heavily trafficked mammals, exploited for its sturdy scales, body parts, and even
its meat—considered a delicacy in some of the far reaches of the world. It is
also considered to be critically endangered at this point.

With the ability
to 3D print complex and detailed textiles, one of the greatest benefits is that
no animals are endangered in creating materials that mimic the wonders of
nature. Throughout the centuries, animal structures and natural designs have
been behind much substantial research, as well as the development of complex
materials that may later play a critical role in development of functional
parts. Ultimately though, while the opportunity to delve into industrial
techno-fashion obviously plays a large part in the design process, Wipprecht,
JKU, and g.tec are centered around learning more about how the brain sends
signals to the human body.

The Pangolin dress with LED lights. Photo source: Anouk Wipprecht

Science, art, technology, and fashion are fused together in a
combination certainly never seen (or worn) before, with Wipprecht drawing from the inspiration of
the unusual scales to create modern, mobile EEG sensors streamlined enough for human wear outside the hospital,
allowing brain waves to be recorded and studied.

Wipprecht continues to reveal the magic of 3D printing, as well as the freedom—and science—of expression emerging from modern fashion. Throughout the past decade especially, new technology has allowed artists and fashion designers to work from a new, often highly industrial, medium. At first, much of the 3D printing in fashion involved flashy appliques or smaller, bulkier parts accentuating haute couture produced via conventional technology. As printing with textiles, polymers, metal, and more has continued to evolve, along with robotics, fashion designs have become much more fluid, and aesthetically pleasing to consumers. For many highly-customized pieces, sewing may not even be necessary at all.

Famed high-tech fashion architect, Anouk Wipprecht. Photo source: Anouk Wipprecht

“I like to refer to this as a ‘high-tech dress that builds up
like an IKEA kit. It was much fun assembling the dress this way, using tiny M2
screws,” said the designer.

Wipprecht’s one-of-a-kind body system was recently on display at the ARS Electronica Festival, ‘a global journey mapping the world,’ held from September 9-13 in a virtual event from JKU Campus in Linz, Austria, including 120 other locations from around the globe.  

From industrial components to futuristic wearables—and whether you need prototypes or functional parts 3D printed quickly—you will find an inspiring world of opportunity available at Shapeways. Enjoy the benefits of our advanced technology and wide range of materials for printing your creations with accuracy, complex detail, and no minimum or limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Read more case studies, find out more about our solutions, and get instant quotes here.

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