Project 2: Second Skin


The second project focuses on the theme of textiles and wearables. Using 3D modeling, 3D scanning, and 3D printing, students will design and fabricate their own textile materials, explore the relationship between objects and the body, and ultimately design a wearable.

Read the Project 2 assignment here: 4.031 project 2 PDF

Slides from Project Introduction on textile construction and 3D-printed textiles: 4.031 Second Skin Intro slides PDF

Part 1: Create a Textile Base Unit

3D printing opens up new possibilities for constructing materials. It allows for complex configurations of matter resulting in meta-materials whose properties can vary through space. In this part of the assignment, you will design and fabricate your own textile using 3D modeling and printing. We’ll be taking inspiration not only from traditional textiles and wearables, such as chainmaille, but also biological structures like skin, hair, fur, and scales.

You should start your design from the base unit and move up to a full textile. In fabric, the base unit is often a strand which is woven or knit. You’ll be designing your textiles for a specific 3D-printing process and material, and with 3D printing, our geometries are much less limited. The base unit or components of your textile can be quite simple (the base unit of chainmail is just a ring for instance). It’s the way that they interlock, intertwine, interweave, or aggregate that’s interesting.

We will have 3 different 3D printing options for this assignment:

  • Form 2 SLA 3D printer: Clear hard resin
  • Form 2 SLA 3D printer: Black flexible resin
  • ZCorp 450:  White plaster powder printer (ideal for interlocking designs)


  • Completed 3D printed base unit for in-class critique
  • Photos of your base unit posted to the class website
  • Drawings of textile swatches you plan to create with your base unit (at least 3 design variations)

Deadline: 10/13

Part 2: Create a Textile Swatch

In this part of the assignment, you will scale your base unit to a full textile swatch. Your textile should vary in properties across its surface and you should consider how its structure affects its performance and behavior. How does your textile move, stretch and feel to the touch? Is it stretchy, drapey, loose, or stiff? How can it perform functions like sensing, warmth, protection, grip, ornament, or communication? And how your textile structure vary through space?


  • Completed 3D printed textile swatch for in-class critique
  • Maximum size 5 x 4 x 2 inches
  • Printed all as one piece, not assembled
  • Graded properties (changes in structure across piece)
  • Photos of your 3D printed textile swatch posted to the class website

Deadline: 10/18

Part 3: Design a Wearable to Augment the Body

Building off your design explorations from part 1 and 2, you will design a wearable second skin for the body.  In the first half of the assignment, we created small textile swatches with variable structures and behaviors. In this part, we will be applying these ideas to a design that you can wear.

Skin is a complex multilayered organ that performs many functions: protection, sensation, thermoregulation, absorption, and communication; garments enhance, control, and highlight these functionalities.

Design a wearable object that augments one of these functions or proposes a new function. Moving up in scale may require a switch in fabrication methods and a combination of materials and techniques, such as laser cutting fabric, sewing, 3d-printing, mixed media, etc. For example, you could laser cut a scaffold for weaving wool yarn or you could 3D print small components and assemble them by sewing onto fabric.  

Things to consider:

  • Body: What part of the body are you designing for?
  • Function: How can the structure and form of your wearable enable or restrict different functions or use? Does its function extend beyond the individual and have a social role?
  • Materiality: How do material choices (texture, color, transparency, elasticity, etc) support its function? How do they communicate with the people wearing your design or others?
  • Construction: How are components connected or assembled? Does that make it easy or hard to build or modify? How does it conform to the body or resist motion?
  • Type: What kind of wearable are you making? Many things can be considered a wearable, such as a bracelet, necklace, ring, mask, eyewear, jacket, shoes, etc. Your choice should be informed by its function and overall concept you are trying to achieve.

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