What is 3D printing?
The process begins with a 3D image (sliced into layers) designed with a computer program: this is something that has been around for decades. The 3D printer sprays thin layers of one building material -- this may be plastic resin, metals, or even food -- onto a base surface according to the image. Moving from the bottom up, the object is formed layer by layer and then sometimes hardened by laser or UV light.This technology is currently used to build prototypes or parts, since more complex items tend to require more than one material.
According to the National Geographic, while fur production has dropped worldwide, more than half of the Fall 2016 collections still used fur because of demands from "the newly wealthy in China."The market is also dominated by Chinese-farmed fur, which is produced without any regard to animal cruelty laws. Even today, millions of minks and other animals are kept in tiny cages and subjected to inhumane treatment, according to Michigan State University College of Law.
How can 3D printing help prevent animal cruelty?
By studying closely how real hair moves and feels against human skin, experts at MIT Media Lab expect to 3D print realistic "hairs" -- from soft fur to coarse bristles -- onto a base. Under the Cilllia project, scientists may soon be able to replicate all the qualities of fur, minus the animal cruelty. Although the research is still brand new, MIT expects to be able to put it to a variety of uses in the near future "as high-resolution 3D printers become increasingly available and affordable." With Cilllia paving the way, the fashion industry of the future could be working with faux fur, faux leather, and other cruelty-free materials that are believably soft, warm, and beautiful