Fashion firm prints out bikinis

It might sound a rather unreliable way to cover your modesty on the beach, but design company Continuum Fashion says its new bikini, printed out on a 3D printer, is both comfortable and sturdy.

The N12 bikini – named for the Nylon 12 it’s made from – consists of hundreds of tiny disks, and is produced entirely through the 3D printing process. The pieces all snap together without any sewing, and are just 0.7mm thick.

“Designing the bikini was an endeavor of pushing the capabilities of the machine as well as working with constraints,” says Continuum cofounder Jenna Fizel.

“A bikini was the natural choice to start with for 3D printed fashion, due to the low amount of material needed. The printer also has a set bounding box, and our original bikini design exactly fit within the print area in a single piece.”

In practice, she says, it’s more efficient to printo the bikini in four dofferent pieces which can then be simply snapped together.

Customers can order the bikini in a range of sizes though Continuum itself or its partner Shapeways; it’s then printed out and shipped.

Most customers, of course, aren’t really all that bothered about how their clothes are actually manufactured. But the development is interesting in light of the fact that 3D printers are expected in the coming years to become a household item.

In future, ordering a bikini such as the N12 could simply mean paying online for the printing rights, and then just printing one out for yourself at home.

“3D printing technology is really only in its infancy, and it is extraordinarily exciting to imagine what we can do as its capabilities improve,” says Fizel.

“Right now, the challenges in the process also become points of inspiration. We have plans to do a dress, perhaps in modular pieces, and shoes.”

You can order the N12 here; be warned, it’s not cheap.