Several years ago, Otherlab's Jonathan Bachrach and Saul Griffith, former BB guestblogger and MacArthur "Genius" received a DARPA grant to develop algorithms that convert 3D objects into 2D pattern pieces. Those pieces can then be fabricated out of myriad materials and fastened together to make the 3D object. While DARPA is a defense department outfit, Saul and Jonathan were encouraged to find other non-defense uses for their futuristic design/manufacturing tech. Of course, they had lots of fun doing just that. Last year, Saul showed me some ingenious snap-together kids toys they had prototyped. And now, they've teamed up with Betabrand to apply their algorithm to clothing, such as this new "DARPA Hoodie." From an interview with Bachrach:
My end-to-end software tool chain takes 3D surface files and produces 2D vector files with nested flat parts with all the necessary part numbers, bend lines, angles and joinery ready to cut and easy to assemble.
The bend and joinery mechanisms are completely customizable for the particular material type and desired look such as pop rivets, welded seams, and press fit.
The tool creates the opportunity for greatly lowering the time of manufacturing and for creating a unique algorithmic design quality.
The 2D panels are created based on a customizable goodness measure that first ensures that panels are flattenable with low distortion and from there guides the formation of panels towards a user's desired shape, for example, equal sized, fewest number, etc.
We have previously applied this algorithm towards making a better t-shirt and more recently have been working with Betabrand on making a hoodie.
For clothing, the automatic panelizer opens up the possibility for custom clothing and better fits for stiffer materials.
The hoody was created algorithmically from a 3D triangular mesh for an average six foot male, downsampled to 100 triangles, deconstructed into 12 panels of high grade nylon, and finally sewn together with externally visible red thread.