CREATE Ambassador Frances Murphy is currently undertaking a PhD in at Manchester

In her latest research, Frances focussed on democratising design from the domestic sphere, by investigating 3D printing as a textile craft technology in the home. Frances is taking advantage of a long term loan of an Ultimaker S5 and 2+ from CREATE Education to complete her research.

In this guest blog, Frances shares some of the outputs of her research so far.


This practice-based research examines the introduction of 3DP textiles in the domestic sphere: a domestic space where textile designers create, live and work. It questions whether 3DP can become an essential tool in the domestic sphere for textiles, bridging the gap between traditional textile design and 3D printing technology in industry, education and community. It analyses the barriers for textile design in domestic 3DP and who is excluded from new knowledge of making through the lack of domestic textile 3DP technologies. This study looks at how the traditional domestic textile making community could use existing desktop 3D printers and software as a textile-making tool—using the machine to create computational traditional textile structures and surface patterns, such as lace and embroidery. It analyses this process through the interaction of 3DP machine design and material based Affordances (Barati and Karana, 2019).

3D printing textiles, from a home desktop 3D printer within a domestic sphere, could play a crucial role for textile designers, extending their skillset and introducing them to new future technologies in industry, education and the community. This research seeks to introduce a methodology that examines design software, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and opensource software like Tinkercad (Carlota, 2020) and Cura (, n.d.) and Tailornova (Anika, 2020), to enable designers to easily hack these with simple configurations to assist ease of use for 3D printing textiles at home. It explores the utilisation of 3DP textiles in various frameworks, making comparisons between the domestic sewing machine and 3DP, examining what barriers exist in the 3DP making process, who may be excluded through the lack of domestic textile 3DP technology?

Short video of design fiction comparing the sewing machine and future 3DP in the domestic sphere.

The Covid -19 pandemic and recent lockdown events have challenged how democratisation in design works within a capitalist society. The Guardian reported that the demand for craft, hobbyist classes, has increased by 200% since the pandemic (Brignall, 2020).

Analysis of the (2020-21) lockdown situation, questions, how 3D printing could enable the home-based textile designer, to connect to the wider commercial community digitally. Through collaboration, social media, websites, and 3DP online software. Could this 3DP textiles making community develop a future for new commercial potential and benefit the broader community in a commercial entity? Through practice-based research, I seek to observe the possible benefits and disadvantages of shared digital software systems through 3DP textiles and face-to-face interaction with social media and digital platforms such as Tinkercad and Shapeways. The ease of use of the Desktop 3D printer for the craft maker/practitioner in the domestic sphere.

This study concludes that 3D printing in textile could play a pivotal role in developing a culture of democratic designers working from a domestic sphere. This thesis argues that if 3DP technology and material is advanced, 3DP textiles could benefit a more expansive creative, sustainable production infrastructure, enabling the crafted textile domestic designer to become an integral part of 3D printing textiles technology in emerging textile industries.

Example 3D Prints

Next Steps

Research Project at Manchester School of Art ( 3D Printing Textile, Lace, Embroidery, Weave)

Frances has been invited to set a 3DP research project for textile students at Manchester University, Introducing her practice-based methodology. The research will be qualitative based through a practice-based workshop. She will observe and document the outcomes through questionnaires, interviews, photography, and video.

CREATE Education would like to thank Frances for sharing this update on her research with us. We are looking forward with interest to see the outcomes of the research.

To learn more about the research project, download the Review of Practice document Frances has produced.

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