Can investment in 3D printing technology boost RMG demand?

3D printing could be the beginning of a new era in Bangladesh’s garment industry

Shafayet Ullah Fahad Dr Mohammad Shahidul Islam

16 November 2022 at 10:00 am

Last modified: 16 Nov 2022 at 10:29 am

It’s high time that the Bangladesh RMG sector started 3D printing. This is much easier now.
Photo by Metropolitan Museum of Art

It is high time the Bangladesh RMG sector introduced three-dimensional (3D) printing, which is now much more accessible 
Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

It’s high time that the Bangladesh RMG sector started 3D printing. This is much easier now.
Photo by Metropolitan Museum of Art

3D technology can help in conceptualizing, modelling, and visualising Bangladesh’s garments sector. For example, Bangladesh textile factories could employ fused deposition modelling (FDM)— a 3D printing technology. 

For 3D-printed clothing, you can use polyamide powder (plastic), nylon, carbon fibre, nylon and elastic (TPU, TPE) materials. 

To create a prototype of the product and then to produce the final version, product designers and innovators combine these elements with CAD softwares, such as CLO3D and Fusion 360.

The Bangladesh RMG sector should introduce three-dimensional (3D), printing. This is possible because of the advantages of cost, sustainability and reliability as well as fabrication speed and demand-based printing. 

This allows for creative aesthetics, as well as the creation of baroque geometries. 3D printing eliminates the need for additional assembly steps. 

For example, 3D printed knitwear is made from yarns and not woven fabric. 

The machine and its materials cost are not the only concerns. Copyright violations can also be a possibility. A fused deposition modeling (FDM), 3D printer offers greater flexibility. This allows for faster production, better durability and can be used in a matter of minutes to hours. It also meets the needs of consumers who are looking for functional products that meet their end-use requirements.

FDM printers are much more affordable than other 3D printer technologies, with prices ranging from US $500 to US $6,000. FDM printers can be used with a variety of materials and produce consistent results. They also allow for non-hazardous manufacturing. 

An FDM printer creates layers by stacking anisotropic (direction-dependent) filaments; however, this method is prone to breaking, has limited accuracy, and produces rough surfaces. To achieve the desired result, a post-curing process includes smoothing, support removal and welding.

These technologies, despite their flaws and limitations, have the potential to drive the remarkable transformation of garment manufacturing in Bangladesh. 

Manufacturing methods that are made from recycled materials and 3D printed reduce manufacturing lead time and costs, reduce reliance on imported cotton, lower the use of dyeing chemicals, keep control over manufacturing quality and prevent worker exploitation. 

3D printing could be a boon for Bangladesh’s garment industry, as sustainable practices and cutting-edge technology are increasingly needed to satisfy the needs of an expanding international market.

John Roberts, MD at Wool Mark Company believes that Bangladesh’s strong position as a textile labor force and its available skills sets can be leveraged for the expansion of the textile industry. 

Although sufficient knowledge, technical skills, and awareness of 3D printing is yet to be developed among the people of Bangladesh, copyrighting is another  concern that will necessitate a revamp of the laws governing the manufacturing industry in order to protect legal rights.

Nanjing University of the Arts School of Design recently displayed the groundbreaking step 42 students took in 3D printing with perplexing textile designs. This exhibition caught the attention technology enthusiasts, manufacturers and potential customers. 

Far East Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia are focusing on 3D printing for the production of industrial goods. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is strengthening policies to co-locate R&D centres with foreign firms and increasing fiscal budget allocations to support 3D printing companies. 

Globally, 3D printing technology will generate investments of $7.93 trillion US dollars in China by 2022. The global market is estimated to be worth approximately $94 billion US by 2030.

It is likely that concerned bodies will consider whether 3D printing readymade garments can lead to an increase in demand from European purchasing firms for recyclable garments. 

Puma and Nike are among the companies that are seeing an increase of demand for 3D printed sneaker midsoles. 

This market disparity could also be contributing to Bangladesh’s textile industry growth. The 3D printer allows you to create the final product directly by molding a single panel for denim fabrics. This helps reduce the production costs and involves less hand-stitching. 

Conventional methods require up to seven panels. 

The training of 3D printers and digital design could help garment workers to create wool-knitwears. This would help the garment industry incorporate sustainability as a measurable element. 

BGMEA was established to raise awareness of social stakeholders and diversify the talent of workers, improve wages and provide more employment opportunities for IT graduates and other resourceful graduates. 

This will boost the growth of the garment industry and the overall economy.    

3D printing supports sustainability by using recycled materials at a cost-effective price, huge customisation options for exact quantities, reducing environmental carbon footprint, and minimizing landfill space in Bangladesh. 

We need to have the technical knowledge, responsible, sustainable manufacturing processes and updated manufacturing laws in order to move forward. 

Innovators and industrialist designers are focusing on 3D printing technology as part of the next industrial revolution (AI). 

The 3D printing revolution is set to bring new life to Bangladesh’s garment industry in the next ten-years. In addition, it will be more widely used in other fields such as architecture, aviation, medicine and research.

TBS Sketch

Sketch: TBS

TBS Sketch

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