May 7, 2019, by Kristin Kloberdanz
When British supermodel Jourdan Dunn stepped onto the red carpet at the Met Gala Monday night, the crowd rustled with excitement. Dunn was wearing a blood-red gown in the shape of a rose. Lacquered and stiff, the dress looked like freshly poured hard candy. The glossy petals shone in the spotlight, revealing complex layers of folds and velvety swirls that conveyed a vibrant flower in full bloom.
But this gown was no ordinary high-fashion affair spun from a confection of silks. Designed by Zac Posen, the dress — 21 plastic petals and the titanium cage holding them in place — was entirely 3D-printed. The petals were printed by Protolabs, a GE Additive manufacturing partner, while GE Additive produced the titanium cage. It took around 250 hours of labor to design and 3D-print the dress — including three days per petal — and another 400 hours to sand and coat the petals with a glossy red automotive paint. “The petals remind me of a Ferrari,” says Eric Utley, an applications engineer at Protolabs. “They look and feel like the panels of a supercar.”