Protolabs and GE Additive use 3D printing technologies for Met Gala gowns
GE Additive and Protolabs have taken their additive manufacturing experience in an unexpected direction via a collaboration with fashion designer Zac Posen.
The three collaborated to construct four gowns and a headdress for showing at the Met Gala.
While the innovation does not herald the imminent arrival of consumer ready 3D-printed clothes, it does demonstrate the possibilities afforded by various materials and techniques.
Three principal additive manufacturing techniques were used in the construction of the pieces. Electron-beam melting (EBM) was used in the construction of sturdy metal frames for the dresses.
Meanwhile, as revealed by their joint press release, “the intricate printed vine headpiece with leaf and berry embellishments is printed as a single piece and made of Nylon 12 plastic and printed on a Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) machine.”
The high level of detail in this case was achieved through the powder based binder jet process, which progressively deposits a binding material on the powder to build up a structure.
Finally, resin setting stereolithography (SLA) technology was used across the items, allowing large segments to be printed in one piece.
The interplay of different technologies necessary to fulfill the design requirements of wearable clothes mirrors the collaboration of the three entities involved, the surprising nature of which they were keen to highlight: “What might seem like an unlikely collaboration of design engineers and Zac Posen - one of the fashion industry's leading lights, at the forefront of innovation - in fact makes complete sense when you consider the transformative impact 3D printing is having on our everyday lives,” the press release states.
Brian Peters, Protolabs’ chief marketing officer, detailed the individual roles of the collaborators, saying that GE Additive was instrumental in designing the CAD files, while Protolabs used “a lot of GE equipment and we have the expertise and design capabilities to actually produce the various items that you’ll see in these dresses and pieces.”
The production of these items demonstrates not just the capability of the technologies GE Additive and Protolabs possess, but also the future possibilities on offer when they are deployed in collaboration.
First Solar to Invest US$684mn in Indian Energy Sector
First Solar is about to set up a new photovoltaic (PV) thin-film solar manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India. The 3.3GW factory will create 1,000 skilled jobs and is expected to launch its operations in Q3 of 2023. According to the company, India needs 25+ gigawatts of solar energy to be deployed each year for the next nine years. This means that many of First Solar’s Indian clients will jump at the chance to have access to the company’s advanced PV.
Said Mark Widmar, First Solar’s CEO: ‘India is an attractive market for First Solar not simply because our module technology is advantageous in its hot, humid climate. It’s an inherently sustainable market, underpinned by a growing economy and appetite for energy’.
A Bit of Background
First Solar is a leading global provider of photovoltaic systems. It uses advanced technology to generate clear, reliable energy around the world. And even though it’s headquartered in the US, the company has invested in storage facilities around the world. It displaced energy requirements for a desalination plant in Australia, launched a source of reliable energy in the Middle East (Dubai, UAE), and deployed over 4.5GW of energy across Europe with its First Solar modules.
The company is also known for its solar innovation, reporting that it sees gains in efficiency three times faster than multi-crystalline silicon technology. First Solar holds world records in thin-film cell conversion efficiency (22.1%) and module conversion efficiency (18.2%). Finally, it helps its partners develop, finance, design, construct, and operate PV power plants—which is exactly what we’re talking about.
How Will The Tamil Nadu Plant Work?
Tamil Nadu will use the same manufacturing template as First Solar’s new Ohio factory. According to the Times of India, the factory will combine skilled workers, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication, and IoT connectivity. In addition, its operations will adhere to First Solar’s Responsible Sourcing Solar Principles, produce modules with a 2.5x lower carbon footprint, and help India become energy-independent. Said Widmar: ‘Our advanced PV module will be made in India, for India’.
After all, we must mention that part of First Solar’s motivation in Tamil Nadu is to ensure that India doesn’t rely on Chinese solar. ‘India stands apart in the decisiveness of its response to China’s strategy of state-subsidised global dominance of the crystalline silicon supply chain’, Widmar explained. ‘That’s precisely the kind of level playing field needed for non-Chinese solar manufacturers to compete on their own merits’.
According to First Solar, India’s model should be a template for like-minded nations. Widmar added: ‘We’re pleased to support the sustainable energy ambitions of a major US ally in the Asia-Pacific region—with American-designed solar technology’. To sum up: Indian solar power is yet the next development in the China-US trade war. Let the PV manufacturing begin.