The shift from 3D body scanned data to the physical world
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This paper highlights the technological relationship and opportunities to combine 3D body scan and 3D print technologies for consideration within the fashion sector. Three dimensional (3D) human body scanning technology has been available for more than 20 years; fashion along with a number of other industries such as entertainment, security and medical have successfully extracted computational scanned data to obtain specific body measurement to gain a picture of body shape, proportion and posture. This information can provide valuable insight when dealing with the complexity of the human form, particularly in the context of lifestyle, age, ethnicity and location. Predominately this empirical data has been gathered to develop size/measurement averages for large population studies (11,000 participants were scanned, providing 130 body separate body measurements, in recent commissions in both SizeUK and SizeUSA). In a fashion context, the information provided by these large studies has tended to reflect the mass apparel market, in particular sizing measurements for targeted groups, while customization of 3D body scan data for individuals within the fashion and textile industries has been limited. To date the most prominent examples have come from the niche market arena of men’s suiting and specialized sportswear to aid fit, comfort and performance. Over a similar period of time, 3D printing technology has also grown to the point that commercially available equipment has helped to shift a design approach for modelling and rapid prototyping applications. This technological transformation is having a profound effect on existing industries, for instance engineering, while also providing a fresh platform for emerging designers from many sectors to communicate design ideas as a physical reality. For example, bespoke fashion accessories developed by UK designer Catherine Wales in her 2013 work “Project DNA” illustrates that the fashion and textiles industries can also take part in this industrial transformation. Using a technology focused design thinking framework, the research explores the opportunity for combining both these technologies; in other words utilizing individual 3D body scan data in the form of a point cloud to produce physical 3D modelling for customization purposes. At this stage there is little documentation of the reflective practice to empower designers with the techniques to connect these technologies, or indeed the exploration of creative possibilities and human centred outcomes. This paper documents early stage development of the conversion process from a Symcad 3D body scanner to outputs obtained from a Formiga P100 3D laser sintering system housed within the Design & Creative Technologies Faculty at AUT University, New Zealand. The physical prototype outputs are based on actual body scan data to produce a scaled mannequin. Key research findings and insight clusters are evaluated within a summary framework which highlights potential applications and uses for the fashion sector to engage with such technology to personalize and enrich human engagement.