TED recently attended a workshop at the Creative Industries Centre at Metropolitan Works in East London, to learn about the latest digital manufacturing technologies that are taking the design world by storm.
The largest laser-cutter in London is here as well as a water-jet cutter (image above) which can cut through steel, metals, glass ceramic. Most exciting was the 3D printing, or 'rapid prototyping' as it is called in the trade. You can 'print' or build objects using a nylon powder which solidifies, and this is mainly used to build prototypes and models. Acting like a 'bureau', all of these machines are available for designers and artists to try at a reasonable rate and you also get advice and help from very the knowledgable technicians.
My mind was racing as I tried to imagine all the possibilities for using this technology for textiles. Philip Delamore is one designer who has been experimenting with rapid prototyping, and he is currently working on a project called Evolving Textiles, exploring apporaches to creating body conforming textiles which combine 3D scanning, design and direct 3D manufacturing using laser sintering. The image shown above is a chain-mail textile which has been built using the rapid protoyping technology.