Researchers at MIT have created 3D-printed fur that is perfect for wintery couture runway looks, elaborate paint brushes, or even jewellery, the university’s Media Lab said last week on its blog.
The invention is a timely one, as California became the first US state last month to place a ban on selling, donating, or manufacturing new fur products in the state.
Over the last few years, vanguard brands like Burberry, Gucci, Versace, and Chanel have opted out of using fur, while e-retailers like Farfetch also joined the cause. London Fashion Week prohibited animal fur looks on the runway as of September 2018.
According to MIT’s Media lab, the first 3D-printed fur ensemble was designed by Boston-based designer Erin Robertson, winner of Project Runway’s 15th season. The 3D fur technology was invented by Jifei Ou, who was a graduate student at MIT’s Tangible Media group. Dubbed Cilllia, the material is made with a biocompatible resin used in dentistry that is printed in micro micron resolution and is as soft to the touch as authentic mink or chinchilla.
“I hate the word innovation so much because people throw it around when all they’re really doing is just gluing something onto something else or repurposing something already invented,” Robertson was quoted as saying in the blog post. “But this was so different, and I was like, we have to work on something together.”
Ou’s process involves a voxel-based printing software that creates hair-like strands in 50-micrometer resolution, or 1/24,500th of an inch. Ou’s technology can customise each hair on a paint brush for unique strokes, produce fuzzy or hair-like jewellery pieces, and even create detailed surface textures.
The two coats designed by Robertson and made with Ou’s Cilllia are delicate and modern and are currently on display at the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City and Cube, a design museum in Kerkrade, the Netherlands.