Filaflex Purifier Filament and Fashion: One Step Further in Bringing Purpose and Responsability to the Planet
Jamela’s works often revolve around themes of culture, social justice and environment. As an outsider in a myriad of ways, Jamela hopes to redefine social constructs through her practice by casting light on issues related to diversity and connectivity, as well as cultivating empathy and emotional resilience in her adopted communities. Her retrospective, reflective outputs are often executed with state-of-the art technology and self-developed computational processes. Her works have been showcased internationally at notable venues such as the National Museum of Singapore, Asian Civilisation Museum, The Mills Fabrica Hong Kong, DongHua University in Shanghai, Art of Fashion San Francisco and Fashion Tech Week New York. Jamela had also worked with companies such as Swarovski, and Glenfiddich SEA for their marketing campaigns. In addition, she had contributed poetry for The Sexual and Reproductive Health Matter (SRHM) Journal. Her visual works had also been featured in numerous magazines such as Elle, Female, L’Official, loTex, Tatler and Vogue etc. Her work is in the permanent collection of the National Archive, under the Heritage Board in Singapore. We spoke with her to learn about the role of 3D printing in fashion and, in particular, the use of our Filaflex Purifier filament. Let's meet her!
Photo: Filaflex Purifier dress on runway, worn by Miss Universe Singapore 2022 1st Runner Up, Yvonne Sashirekha.
Hi, Jamela! Tell us something about yourself. How did you start your career in fashion?
Before I got into the fashion discipline, I was a science student. I am a voracious consumer of information, especially of my passions such as Natural Sciences, Technology and Culture. This is when the fashion practice comes in, acting as an adhesive to multiple disciplines I am passionate about, aiding me in self-expression and learning. Fashion is about visual identity, a kind of storytelling that is so important in a world that does not always embrace individuality or differences. It helped me spark difficult conversations and reopen doors that closed in my face.
Jamela Law is a neurodiverse artist, designer, and activist based in Singapore and Hong Kong. She holds a BA (Hons) degree from LASALLE College of the Arts Singapore, accredited by Goldsmiths, University of London. Her graduation collection was named Best Collection by her school’s Dean of Design. Moreover, she was a finalist in the 2017 Graduate Programme, organized by the Council of Fashion Designers in America (CFDA+). Presently she is developing her own Fashion and Art practice as a Founding Partner at Baëlf Design, established in late 2017.
Why did you decide to make your dress with 3d printing?
Fashion cannot exist without technology, whether the technology is as rudimentary as ancient stone tools, modern looms, or the advanced robotic manipulators of today. My co-founder Lionel worked as a product designer in the States a decade ago just before the maker movement exploded, where he developed a strong interest and understanding in computational methods of fabrication. When we founded Baëlf in 2017, we know 3D printing was going to be a dominant form of production in the future, made available to all. I have always been obsessed with technology, machines, and nature’s laws. I am aware of the limitation of my human mind from a very early stage and have been convinced that the kind of intricacy that intrigues me can only be achieved with the help of computers. 3D printing is by far the most direct fabrication method that can bring all my interests together.
Why did you choose to use our Filaflex Purifier filament for your dress and collection?
I was keen on exploring Restorative Design with my previous fashion collection ‘Mindful Intersections: Charting the Course Less Travelled, by combining sustainable making practices that seeks to repair harm with couture dressmaking techniques. This collection was inspired by the Astrolabe, a useful device that helped kickstart a heritage of trade in Singapore and established it as a bustling global trading network centuries ago. Yet with economic growth often comes environmental compromise. By using the Recreus Filaflex Purifier filament to create elegant, airy 3D printed textiles for use in the collection, my garments highlight another form of progress, one that is recuperative and healing, that makes their surroundings better simply with their existence. In addition, Recreus’s FilaFlex has a shore hardness of 82A and 650% stretch, technical advantages perfect for wearables that demands comfort and capability to flex and conform to the wearer’s body.
Photo: Runway showcase of 3D printed dresses at the Asian Civilisation Museum, organised by The Singapore Fashion Council.
Photo left: Astrolabe.
Photo center: Linework printed on Filaflex Purifier on fabric.
Photo right: Patterns laid flat prior to sewing.
How did you first become aware of our company and our products?
I was searching for recycled 3D printing filament and first came across your company’s Reciflex TPU filament. Finding the purifying filament on the website was like coming across an easter egg! I knew I must get my hands on it straightaway and make something!
Photo left: Digital Render of dress design.
Photo right: 3d printed work-in-progress dress toile with Filaflex Purifier.
Can you tell us about the process of using Filaflex Purifier filament to print a dress?
A priority we had in the design process was to have our garments be pliable for maximum wearability. Thus, not only do we rely on the natural softness of Filaflex, we encased a layer of mesh fabric within print layers to form a multi-material composite. This resultant textile not only has active cleaning properties, but is now flexible for comfort. Furthermore, Filaflex still imbues the textile with a natural elastic ‘spring-back’ behavior, which we were able to harness to form interesting three-dimensional reliefs without these architectures collapsing in on themselves. Moreover, having embedded mesh fabric means we can stitch separate patterns easily using traditional sewing techniques. Prior to this, we have not come across any satisfactory way of attaching flexible, 3D printed parts.
Photo left: Digital Pattern.
Photo center: 3d Printing Filaflex Purifier.
Photo right: Sewing the patterns together.
What 3d printer did you use?
We were using quite a large machine: a Raise3D Pro2 Plus FFF-styled printer, with respectable build-plate dimensions of 12 by 12 inches. We had plenty of experience printing in TPU material, and once we got the print settings right, printing the Filaflex filament was a breeze. Even though the filament’s Shore hardness is relatively low, we did not experience any clogging issues whatsoever. Furthermore, Filaflex Purifier filament exhibited no stringing tendencies, which resulted in beautiful, clean prints. To maximize the amount of surface area on the 3D print to facilitate air cleaning, we computationally configured these parts to be composed of thin longitudinal and latitudinal lines as well as forming elegant spike-like structures that soar gracefully into space. In working with this TPU material, we had to devise creative workarounds to form these elements without investing too much print time and support material. In the end they turned out quite successful!
Photo: Full lineup collection.
How did your processes contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry?
Firstly, by heavily relying on digital approaches and designing our garments via software, we eliminate the need to create toiles thus saving time and materials. Revisions can be made on the fly and we can have a multitude of variations. We have quite a lot of control in how we arrange our prints on the printer’s build plate. This meant that when we lay on the mesh fabric layer to be embedded in the print, we pack the pieces as close as possible to avoid fabric wastage. Furthermore, this process allowed us to upcycle odd-sized fabric scraps as we can specifically orient parts to be printed within the fabric boundaries, or even use two separate pieces of fabric in one print, relying on the natural adhesion of the 3D print material to hold the assembly together. Lastly, modularity is a big part of our creation process. By designing parts to be small and replaceable, we can repair parts of any garment by simply replacing affected areas. We want to promote new ways of designing that encourage users to preserve and repair instead of wastefully discarding good material.
Can you walk us through the benefits of using Filaflex Purifier filament compared to traditional filaments?
By having a garment material constantly convert CO2, NOx and VOCs into harmless mineral waste through gas mineralisation, it directly fulfills the objective of Restorative Design, to have wearables be active players in cleansing the environment. It gives them a sense of life and purpose. Coincidentally, in Singapore where I am currently working, our equatorial climes mean sunlight all year long and high ambient humidity , which are perfect conditions to kickstart the catalysis and photocatalysis processes for purification. What is amazing is that the reactions and effects last over time as long as the printed piece is in good condition. We surely need more garment concepts like this in the fashion industry, that possess a sense of responsibility and stewardship of our Earth.
How do you envision the future of sustainable fashion and the role of technology in it?
The boundaries between art, technology and fashion are getting blurred because people are acknowledging that we exist in a fluid space where the three disciplines blend into one another on a multi-dimensional spectrum. To be multi-disciplinary is to be innovative, resourceful, and informed. A specific innovation we are looking out for that facilitates recycling and the circular economy mindset, is to have 3D print filaments of similar compositions as the fabrics they might be printed on. This is of course in context of the fashion practice of 3D printing on fabric. With similar chemical make-ups, the printed part and fabric can be recycled as one piece without requiring complicated, tedious disassembly processes. Materials such as polyester or PET plastic can be good candidates.
Photo: Collection presented at the Asian Civilisation Museum in Singapore in October of 2022.
Can you share any feedback you have received from customers or the fashion industry about using the Filaflex Purifier filament in your designs?
I think most people think the concept of active cleaning filaments is very cool, but since the process is not visually apparent, audiences have trouble understanding or visualizing the benefits. It would be interesting to demonstrate the process by placing the dress in a contained environment with plants or measuring devices to tangibly measure and illustrate this magic.
How does incorporating eco-friendly materials like the Filaflex Purifier filament align with your personal values as a designer?
We believe in the power of movement and of people’s belief; the more people are adopting sustainable practices, the more powerful and impactful these efforts will be. In terms of design, most silhouettes and combinations have already been explored at the macro level. True innovation will come at the micro, material level, where effects cannot be seen but they can be felt. As designers who held up sustainability as one of the major pillars of our philosophy, materials such as Filaflex Purifier have inspired our ideas, and given us hope through an Earth-friendly vision on how our industry can grow towards.
Do you have any plans to continue using 3D printing in your future projects and if so, how do you see it playing a role in the fashion industry?
Definitely. 3D printing to small businesses like ours represents a radical departure from the traditional convention of capitalistic manufacture where things are made in bulk for efficiency and economy of scale. With 3d printing, we own the means of production, and we can save so much on resources from transportation, mold making, etc. In our line of work where we try to synergize between craft, material, and technology, I enjoy adopting a multi-disciplinary artisanal approach befitting our vocation as crafters, using machines as extensions of our hands. The field of fashion requires constant experimentation and being able to customize our designs by modifying physical material properties through the blending of materials and innovating of fabrication processes is a massive advantage in our work. Furthermore, the ability to customize printed garments to exact fit is great for inclusivity. The otherly-abled community had always been left behind, not standing to benefit from the access granted by the democratization of design. With the very exciting field of AI finding applications in the realm of Digital Design, 3D printing seems to be the most direct bridge between the digital and physical worlds, being able to translate intangible, seemingly meaningless data into beautiful visuals. I have plenty of ideas for footwear / streetwear pieces, and I am looking forward to using FilaFlex Purifier filaments on these applications!