The fashion industry is yet to completely realise the potential of 3D printing technology. This lag is due to the fact that synthetic materials commercially available for 3D printing like polylactic acid are not flexible and comfortable enough to be used as textiles or in garments. They print as solids and lack any spaces that allow air to pass through them like conventional fabrics.
One promising avenue in this field is combining 3D printed panels with the traditional textiles. The adhesion of these 3D printed panels to the garment, although needs to be worked upon by fine-tuning of the printing parameters. Also, designers have researched and came up with a collection of garments modeled as the geometry of sound wave, using rubber mesh that allows the dresses to contract and stretch like a memory foam mattress. The structure compresses when the weaver sits down and springs open when they get back standing.
This design does give the flexibility 3D printing lacked in fashion, but the comfort part is still a far reach. The look of this fabric resembles fake leather and it lacks comfort and sticks to the body. Hence, obviously more research is needed, but everyone is moving in the forward direction.
3D printing is limited to its use in jewelry and athletic wear segments in fashion right now. Brands like Nike and Adidas are using this technology for manufacturing high-performance padding and shoe soles, which are generally made from foam. NASA is also using this technology to produce 3D –printed chain mail material to be used for protective armors for astronauts.