James Walsh – MA Fashion Design Case Study

Central St Martins (CSM) MA student and CREATE Ambassador James Walsh wowed the London Fashion Week Vogue runway at the MA 2022 ‘Shiny, Shiny’ show with his 3D printed fashion design collection which he created using the Ultimaker S5.

James used the S5 during his BA in Fashion womenswear whilst also studying at Central St Martins creating a collection of full scale 3D printed dresses with a high gloss hand painted porcelain finish and after being accepted on the Masters programme in Fashion Design at CSM UAL, James was keen to further challenge the way technology can be used within the fashion industry and furthermore, to look at how clothes can be defined and made in the future.

James says “When I started working with CREATE education, I had very little knowledge of 3d software, or 3d printing, though I always felt it was an incredible resource, and something I had to explore.”

James graduated from his BA course during the pandemic and felt like a MA was the right next step for him as there was still so much he wanted to create and as an opportunity to try to perfect his technique and further realise his vision.

PROCESS

To make his creations in the main, James starts off with existing physical objects and then scans them using an Einscan Pro HD such as the tree trunk and cowbell to get a workable 3D file.

James then works with them digitally in order to translate them into clothing. Once he is happy with the sculpted object, he begins to print it. 

LIMITATIONS AND OVERCOMING THEM

One limiting factor that James has found with his process was that the Ultimaker S5 has a relatively small print bed for the nature of his work. To overcome these challenges, he split each file into multiple parts, which allowed him to print much larger pieces. He tried to add pins and holes to each piece, allowing slightly more control when putting the pieces back together.

BUILD AND POST PROCESSING

Once the printing of the full components for each piece has been completed, James began to assemble them. Using strong two part glue to carefully piece them together, James builds the outfits.

Often working in his living room, as well as the studio, James found it hard to get the needed clean finish on the objects in the limited space he had. He followed a process of sanding and filling to reduce any visible joints or imperfections. He found that printing with solid infill

allows more room for manipulation as he can sand a lot further into the printed pieces than if the piece had a hollow infill. Using polyfilla was also key to getting a clean surface.

James then coated the assembled layers in XTC-3D which acts as a clear resin coat to further reduce any imperfections.

BENEFITS OF 3D PRINTING AND FINISHING PIECES

“The great thing about 3D printing is that there is complete freedom in the finish – it really can be anything.”

James hand painted his previous work to achieve a glossy porcelain look and explored and experimented with hydro dripping briefly which allowed for a 2D printed design to be transferred over a 3D surface.

His most recent work has all been coated in a flock velvet which is created by coating the pieces in adhesive, adding an electro wave and powdering on flock. Resulting in pieces with a very soft and velvety look to what are solid objects.

For some of his pieces, James used embedded magnetic closures, for instance on his dog mask, as this allowed for the snout and ears to come off with ease and enabled parts to be swapped and changed with great ease.

CHALLENGES OF THE COLLECTION

James had many challenges in completing his collection, however many of these challenges were logistic ones rather than 3D printing ones. Despite taking great care in assembling the pieces as securely as possible, they are still very fragile which makes storage and transportation tricky, especially in relation to the size of the pieces.

James also found it daunting as to whether he had done the digital models correctly and whether they would in fact actually fit someone, which was something that he couldn’t properly find out until the piece had printed fully.

Luckily, all the prints were correct and did indeed fit everyone well, resulting in an innovative, colourful and fabulous catwalk collection.

James says of his experience working with CREATE Education:

“Working with CREATE Education has truly enabled me to push forward my creative process to the highest degree. 3D Printing has become paramount in my work, and without the generous access to the printer, I do not know where I would stand.”

Impressed with what the Ultimaker 3D printer can do? Come and see more examples of pioneering work in education using the Ultimaker eco-system.

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