Research Output

The sustainable and aesthetic possibilities of 3D printing onto textile as an alternative to traditional surface decoration utilising Lyocell

  Textile embellishments seem to be a small part of a finished product yet contribute a significant ecological impact, with associated impacts on global warming, land degradation, human health, air emissions and toxic contamination of water. In addition to this, at the end of a garments life cycle, in large scale textile recycling plants, items must be free of all trims to facilitate reprocessing. They can be difficult and labour intensive to detach or remain on the garment meaning that otherwise recyclable yarns or fabrics are passed by and sent to landfill. The sustainable issues influenced by textile choices in the fashion industry can be also be connected to climate change, waste creation, chemical pollution, loss of biodiversity, overuse of renewable resources, negative impacts on human health, damaging effects on producer communities and water poverty.

Although 3D printing is occasionally used in a fashion context at this time, it is usually for ‘novelty’ rather than to approach any issues around sustainability in the textile industry. In addition to this, Lyocell is utilised by fashion companies, but they have not made enough of an impact to displace the use of more unsustainable fabrics such as cotton. This project intends to look at new ways to use cellulosic textiles and, potentially mixed with PLA, 3D printable materials to be used as embellishment on the textile. The embellishment and the material on the whole product would therefore be generally more sustainable for a number of reasons.

Through this practice led investigation, there will also be emphasis on the technique’s aesthetic appeal and the usability of the processes, so that it may be a real alternative to current provision and practices. The overall impact of this process on society, utilising novel science and technology in this field, will be looked at through the methods involved in Technological Determinism Theory, giving a critical context to the practice.

In this emergent study, the properties of Lyocell have been explored alongside the environmental impact of traditional textile embellishment. The success of initial experiments in 3D printing onto Lyocell and subsequent strength tests will be disseminated.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    23 November 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    677 Textiles

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Vettese, S., Shackleton, J. & Burn, K. (2016, November). The sustainable and aesthetic possibilities of 3D printing onto textile as an alternative to traditional surface decoration utilising Lyocell. Paper presented at Circular Transitions, Chelsea College of Arts and Tate Britain, London



Trims, embellishments, recycling yarn, 3D printing,

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