Most 3D-printed objects are made out of rigid plastic or resin materials that aren't necessarily ideal for every project. Now, for a limited time online shops like i.materialise are offering designers the chance to play with experimental materials that have properties akin to rubber. Currently these materials are only being offered on a limited basis, but they're already paving the way for new ideas, including one haute couture dress that paraded down the catwalk at Spring Fashion Week 2013 earlier this year.
The new material, which is dyed black and called Rubber-like, is priced at €2 (US$2.60) per cubic centimeter, which is more expensive than other options. However, this is one of the few materials available that frees designers to incorporate shock absorption and structural elasticity into their models, gadgets, and functional objects. One of the more exciting possibilities afforded by this material is 3D printed clothing, as can be seen in the following video.
The 3D-printed dress, created by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen with Julia Koerner, was fabricated by i.materialise on its Mammoth Stereolithography machines. "I find the process of 3D printing fascinating because I believe it will only be a matter of time before we see the clothing we wear today produced with this technology, and it’s because it’s such a different way of manufacturing, adding layer-by-layer, it will be a great source of inspiration for new ideas," says Iris van Herpen, who has designed sophisticated skirts, capes, and dresses that would be impossible to create any other way.
The company will offer Rubber-like until September 1st. Another online shop, Shapeways, is also offering an off-white flexible material called Elasto Plastic for $1.75 per cubic centimeter.