Russians 3D-Printing Underwear After Lace Ban
Published: August 31, 2014 (Issue # 1826)
Earlier this summer, Russia's parliament took the controversial step of banning all underwear made from synthetic lace, preventing its manufacture and sale within the country. But if Russians don't like the ban, which labels the undergarments as harmful to Russian's health, they can always make their own — if they have a 3D-printer.
This August, Russia designer Viktoria Anoka hired 3DPrintus to create a pair of panties for the company Lascana, presented as part of St. Petersburg's technology fair "Geek Picnic."
"Lascana was definitely the craziest thing we have been asked to print," 3DPrintus founder and CEO Konstantin Ivanov told The St. Petersburg Times. The project took more than three months and is the first underwear to be printed in Russia.
Of course, the end product's plastic feel meant it wasn't entirely comfortable. Anastasia Belousova, who modeled the underwear for Lascana, said the attire was "interesting but not for everyday life."
But 3D-printing isn't just a novelty. The business, once confined to research laboratories, is on the rise. The process, in which printers lay down layer after layer of material, is hailed as revolutionary because it allows manufacturers to move production away from huge factories in faraway countries to more tailored, localized production.
There are about a dozen 3D-printing companies in Moscow. Businesses like 3DPrintus allow designers to upload their designs onto an online platform — www.3dprintus.ru — for customers to choose from. The customer then selects the product they want and chooses the material they would like it made from. "It allows designers to create a product and bring it to the public for much cheaper than if they were to make it in a factory," Ivanov said.
The variety of materials available is vast: everything from synthetic plastics to silver and gold. Even Ivanov's wedding ring, consisting of two intertwining bands of yellow and white gold, was printed with one of the machines. For a precious material like gold they first made a prototype, then a mold out of wax and finally the ring.
Although the 3D-printing process takes a long time, techniques are developing rapidly. When creating material out of stainless steel, for instance, 3DPrintus uses a computer to spray steel powder in layers, much like an inkjet printer.
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