Tailored clothes of the future will be made with 3D printing and scanners

Every body is different, but two companies have joined forces to create customized mannequins using a body scanner and professional 3D printers

It's an idea that could revolutionize the production and purchasing sector in the fashion industry both online and in traditional stores with an expense, all in all, minimal, but that would guarantee clothing literally modeled on the body of the customer who, satisfied, would return to buy in these hi-tech stores.

How many of us, especially women, are tired of buying clothes that are too loose, too tight, too long or too short, which they then have to take to a seamstress to have adjusted. This system starts, in a nutshell, by scanning the body and making a clone of us. At this point, a professional 3D printer enters the field, translating the information acquired by the scanner, processing it, composing the various pieces of the puzzle and making them. Finally, after assembly, we have our own custom mannequin on which to custom mold our clothes.

Fashion Revolution Coming Soon?

The goal is to make custom clothing, and two companies - Body Labs and Voodoo Manufacturing - providing body scanning software and industrial-grade 3D printers, respectively, have decided to collaborate to make this process a reality. Voodoo Manufacturing partnered with New York-based startup Body Labs - which had developed a body scanner - to create a kind of inexpensive "assembly line" to print custom mannequins in their Brooklyn factory.

Artificial Intelligence in the Service of Fashion

It all starts with a 3D scan of a human body. There are many types of 3D scanners but, in general, the operation is very similar between them: a "point cloud" is generated that represents the XYZ coordinates of physical points in three-dimensional space. The result of scans, as with photography, may have "noise", i.e., areas that are not perfectly "in focus" where details are missing, especially in areas where the scanner's view encounters obstacles. The computer, if the scan is not "perfect", is not able to realize a perfect model. At this point, a software developed by Body Labs intervenes and elaborates this "cluster" of 3D points into something that the computer is able to understand by exploiting their statistical model that, thanks to artificial intelligence, is able to learn, and an immense database of shapes and positions of the human body. The end result is a true "body model" of a person. A critical step because scanning alone is not 3D printable, while making an accurate anthropometric model can provide reference points for taking measurements and more.

An Army of 3D Printers

Once a model of a person's body is obtained, Voodoo Manufacturing's 3D printer comes into play. These are desktop printers that can make individual pieces no larger than 11 x 6 x 6 inches - about 28 x 15 x 15 cm - that must then be joined together. About 88 individual pieces were needed to make a mannequin of a woman. Voodoo Manufacturing explains that assembling the individual pieces is an advantage, at least in terms of time, because more printers can be used in parallel than a single 3D printer making the body in one go. Their software can also manage all the 3D printers in the factory," Voodoo Manufacturing points out, "and the mannequin was made in less than 24 hours from 623 printers and 14.7 kg of plastic. This is just one of the possible scenarios. By scanning real bodies and gathering enough information, companies like BodyLabs and Voodoo Manufacturing could help designers produce better products. And this same advanced technology could soon change the way we shop online by allowing customers to virtually try on merchandise before they buy it. Let's just say the fashion world is changing, as, by now, is everything around us.