BEEstories #2 – Mama Africa

January 12, 2016
Written by Alexander Torres
Multimedia & Content Producer


A person who is only slightly familiar with 3D printing might believe it’s a technology reserved for making cheap plastic toys. That person might think that making wearable pieces a complete fantasy, only true in science fiction films.

However, this isn’t fantasy, it’s a reality. 3D-printed wearables have broken the boundary as real-world, see-it-in-the-street stuff. And the fashion world has only been too happy to embrace this burgeoning market. Take our first BEEstory, where we talked to designer Katty Xiomara and how 3D printing helped her vision come to fruition.

And it was hot on the heels of this very successful collaboration that BEEVERYCREATIVE was contacted by yet another player in the world of haute-couture, Lisbon’s Fashion Studio. The challenge was to 3D-print some accessories to use across their entire new collection, and faced with time constraints, it was only us and our BEETHEFIRST 3D printer that could get what they needed done on time.

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We were introduced to the beautiful pieces via some lovely drawings. These pieces were comprised of feathers of varying sizes and evocative of African traditions, the reason being Mozambican singer Neyma was the face of the collection, fittingly entitled “Mama Africa”. These feathers would be perhaps the defining visual element of the entire collection, and traditional methods of manufacturing just wouldn’t cut it. Not only was time an issue, so were the different sizes, the subtle differences in each design of feather, and the quantities needed.

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Most fashion designers have to order accessories in the thousands, even if they only need as few as a dozen, and they have to be exactly correct otherwise it’ll be an expensive mistake. 3D printing the pieces on the BEETHEFIRST circumvented this limitation, allowing for a process of trial and error until the final product was properly honed.

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Delivery of the finished printed pieces went bang on schedule, mostly thanks to a 3D printer reliable enough to be able to commit to a date with the knowledge you won’t miss the deadline due unforeseen technical glitches.

And we really should stress how Fashion Studio took the creative process even further, exploiting a curious property of the PLA used to 3D print the items. Instead of just slapping on the final pieces to clothing and such straight out of the printer, they dipped some in hot water until they became malleable and molded them into body-fitting accessories.

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So once more, actions spoke louder than words, and with no fuss, 3D printing simply showed just what it was capable of. In the words of the collection’s footwear and leatherwork designer, Paulo Pereira: “the 3D printer is the only machine that understands us.”

See more in the video: