Good morning, madam, how can I help you today?
“I’d like a bikini please.”
Certainly madam, I’ll just print one for you.
This, ladies and gentlemen (but mostly ladies), is the kind of bikini you can get now that you’re Living in the Future.
The N12 bikini (named after the plastic it’s printed with) consists of hundreds of tiny circles of plastic, joined by even tinier stretchy plastic strings. The entire thing is manufactured using 3D printing techniques, wherein plastic is melted, cut, and molded into precise shapes by a machine controlled by computers.
It was designed by Continuum Fashion, aka Mary Huang and Jenna Fizel. They are pioneers of what they call “computational couture” – fashion design that takes cues from the world of material technology and computer programming.
Designing the bikini wasn’t as easy as you might think. Much thought had to go into making sure it was comfortable, printable, cost-effective, and didn’t end up leaving too little to the imagination. Or as Jenna Fizel puts it in her technical explanation:
“The patterning starts with a curved surface, some geometry to indicate edges and value ranges for the circles sizes and tolerance parameters. The pattern begins placing circles at a point near the edge. Each subsequent circle tries to stay as near to the nearest edge geometry at possible. The circle’s size is determined using this nearness and the local curvature of the surface. Curvier areas get small circles and flatter areas larger, both to help with accurately approximating the surface and to ensure flexibility where it is needed and efficiency of pattern where it is not.”
Of course, 3D printed plastic bikinis are going to cost you a little more than the traditional cloth ones. The N12 starts at $250, and goes up to $300 depending on your size. That gets you the top. The bottom costs extra. A bespoke fitted model is also available, if you have $1500 to spare.