3D printers to ‘revolutionise’ our shopping experience

Co-owners of Alpha 60, Georgie and Alex Cleary. Source: The Design Files.


A Melbourne-based boutique is exploring how 3D printers can be used in fashion, as part of this year’s Melbourne Fashion Week.

The Alchemy retail workshop, hosted at Alpha 60 on Flinders Lane, showcased jewellery and accessories that were printed using 3D printers supplied by Monash University, on Friday night.

The store’s co-owners, brother and sister team Georgie and Alex Cleary, said the printers could change the meaning of the term “online shopping” because of the ability for customers to print designs at home.

Monash’s 3D printer producing jewellery. Picture by Olivia Jenkins

Mr Cleary said choosing and buying clothes online could become “more instant”.

“Something that we design could be printed in [our] home that afternoon,” he said.

Ms Cleary said 3D printing could give customers direct and immediate access to the product.

“It will revolutionise everything with no delivery and no waiting time,” Ms Cleary said.

A report released earlier this year showed the 3D printing industry raked in more than $7 billion for brands and industries in 2017.

Mr Cleary said the customisation that 3D printers offered customers was already advancing in many areas and fashion had huge potential to be a part of that.

“The idea of customisation is really strong in fashion right now, so we were trying to find ways to bring that to our customers,” he said.

Ms Cleary said it would be exciting to have an industry where designing and customising clothes was no longer only left to the manufacturers and designers.

“We think there are going to be advancements in 3D printing where one day people can print their clothes at home,” Ms Cleary said.

“I think it’s happening faster than people realise.”

Event-goers Rachel (left) and Connie (right) at the Alpha 60 store. Picture Olivia Jenkins

Event-goers and fashion-lovers Rachel and Connie attended the showcase because they work with 3D printers in the biomedical field.

They said 3D printers would change the way couture clothing was produced, but would not have as much of an impact on the general public.

“Having worked with 3D printers, I think they are still quite delicate when it comes to designing something robust,” Rachel said.

Connie said the printing process “would take too long”.

Prototypes of Alpha 60’s jewellery and accessories produced using the 3D printers. Picture by Olivia Jenkins

Monash University Department of Materials Science and Engineering research fellow Lee Djumas said the event was a good way to connect people with the 3D printers to see how they printed designs.

“The fashion industry is pretty progressive, so this [was] a good way of introducing what the printers do to a broader audience,” Mr Djumas said.

“It will showcase what is possible and open the door to what can be done.”

Mr Djumas said the printers would help “democratise” designing and manufacturing clothes by giving customers the chance to develop their own designs.

“It allows a wider group of people to access the technology and to bring their ideas into reality by making physical objects out of their ideas.”

The free workshop will run continue to run through Melbourne Fashion Week until Friday, September 7.