Although 3D printed clothing has not yet come close to becoming a mainstream form of apparel, the technology certainly has promise as new materials make way for new applicable uses. I imagine that the adoption of such clothing manufacturing techniques will be a slow, gradual one, first with small components, or a piece of apparel being 3D printed, and eventually the entire article of clothing. Clearly it’s going to be years before we have mainstream clothing manufacturers simply printing a shirt or a dress out for their customers–however, the initial phases of such a future have already begun..
A new company called reBUTTON, based out of Houston, Texas, and founded by a man named Anthony Obodoechina, has abruptly emerged on the scene via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. reBUTTON aims to redefine luxury clothing accessories, and they are starting with a simple button.
“We were inspired to create reBUTTON after realizing the cuff links my best friend and I wanted to purchase for his wedding retailed for $400,” Obodoechina explained to 3DPrint.com. “So we decided to 3D print a matching pair. I worked at Hewlett Packard PC and Printer division at the time (Early 2014) and so i used my network to help prototype the first samples in plastic. Following several iterations of the cufflinks, the product morphed into an idea for a shirt accessory. I felt the dress shirt was a boring product and I wanted to try to make it more exciting and unique.”
The reBUTTON system incorporates a plastic printed button which is stitched onto the shirt or other article of clothing. The button has a unique design to it, allowing for b2customized accessories to easily be attached via a screw-in system. These accessories can also be 3D printed in practically any metal or other material you desire via 3D printing services such as Shapeways and Sculpteo, among others.
“We manufactured our final samples of the cufflinks and shirt button via Shapeways in 14k gold plated metal,” Obodoechina told us. “The outcome was a better polished product that is 90% cheaper than the suggested retail price of $400 offered by major luxury brands. We have decided to pursue the shirt accessory idea because we have a patent pending on the button functionality.”
The company now seeks to raise the necessary capital required for a full-scale launch. To do this they have created a Kickstarter campaign where they seek to raise a total of $50,000 by July 17. To do this they are offering rewards which range from a package of the base buttons with files so that backers can 3D print accessories to shirts that already have the base c1buttons attached.
If this idea takes off and the company receives enough funding to move to the next level, they already have plans for expanding the idea, thanks in part to 3D printing.
“We think reBUTTON could expand to other forms of clothing (blouses, dresses, sweaters) and certainly beyond luxury brands to possibly our favorite sport teams or our alma mater as an example,” Obodoechina explains. “3D printing allowed us to iterate very quickly and cheaply, which is the major benefit of this innovation.”