Future travel: Don’t pack, just email what you need to a 3D printer

Future travel: Don’t pack, just email what you need to a 3D printer

An Amsterdam art gallery called Galerie VIVID is having an exhibition that amounts to a meditation of how 3D printing could reshape travel. The artist Janne Kyttanen has designed a collection of objects that a woman flying for a beach vacation could conceivably print out at a resort instead of packing them with her in her suitcase, including a handbag, a multi-purpose dress, sunglasses, shoes, etc. 

It’s hard to believe any modern 3D printer could create comfortable clothing items at this point, but the shoes and the bags do look like something you could see in a holiday destination. Taking the long view, it’s inevitable that at some point hotels will provide guests with access to 3D printers and a selection of materials that are suitable to create various fabrics, metal as well as wood and metal substitutes. It’s just hard to say whether that might happen in 2030 or 2060.

This “Lost Luggage” project may be remembered as one of the first steps towards conceiving what a travel pack of printable objects might look like, no matter how crude it will inevitably seem in 2030. At the moment, printable fashion seems to consist mostly of jewelry, uncomfortable looking collars and cuffs, plus nightmarishly plasticy haute couture pieces getting trotted out at fashion shows.

The first commercially available 3D-printed bikini consists of thousands of circular plates of solid nylon, connected by thin springs. This sounds potentially painful, but the result is undeniably unique and the retail price of under $170 is not nutty for a boutique piece. At the moment, most wearable 3D printed items are pieced together from hard chunks of nylon, which essentially limits them to being conversation pieces.  The big challenge is creating tolerable cotton or silk substitutes that can be printed cheaply and quickly into woven fabrics.

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