ThreeForm Scans and Prints Articulated Gymnast Ensembles

3D Printing & Imaging Costumes, Cosplay, and Props
ThreeForm Scans and Prints Articulated Gymnast Ensembles


For a live performance at the 3D PrintShow fashion show, ThreeForm Fashion designed five custom outfits for the Purple Knights gymnastic team. The gymnasts were scanned with a high quality phase-based structured-light system, and the designs were created around that data to ensure a perfect fit.

Team_croppedKnight design curves

An articulated ball-joint system was designed so that if an extreme angle pushes the ball out of the socket, the cord pulls it back into place. This prevents the structure from restricting the performers movement, but still prevents failure of the joint when force or angle exceeds specification.

Dsc_0768_Ball joints_edit

The parts were produced on several extrusion-based desktop 3D printers, including a Stratasys uPrint and a custom machine at r3printing. The parts were coated with two-part epoxy, sanded, primed and painted.


The sections are joined with elastic straps. 3D Printed parts can easily be made flexible, but significant elasticity is a property that is still largely elusive. The lengths of each strap were calculated by measuring the length of a spline on the surface of the scan data, shortened by 20 percent to pre-tension the strap, with one inch added at each end for the fold of material used for fastening. The straps were joined with a combination of 3M Seamstick tape (a double sided adhesive used for assembling racing sails), and “Liquid stitch” which re-enforced the bond after setting. This allowed the garment to be assembled quickly and reliably, but still manually disassembled for adjustment or repair without sewing.


The Purple Knights put on a razor-sharp performance, as you would expect from a team at the top their sport, having one the last five consecutive national championships. The performance was choreographed by senior Knight Erin Turner, who along with Kim, Zahra, Cailyn, Chisaki and Lissette spent weeks practicing their routine, in addition to being full-time students and spending 30 hours a week in the gym practicing for their competitions.

Chisaki flipknights handstandsCailyn aerial

3D printed clothing is good for more than just wearable art and sculpture. With proper design and construction, it can accomplish amazing feats of flexibility, durability, and reliability. As materials and processes improve, expect these capabilities to be even more accessible to makers everywhere.

Knights jumpKnights intro

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Aaron Trocola is an industrial designer who has been creating 3D designs and working with technology start-up companies for over 15 years. His experience includes more than 20,000 hours of 3D modeling experience in CAD, animation, and visualization, and he has personally designed, printed, finished and shipped hundreds of 3D-printed products. He helped develop one of the first volumetric display technologies more than a decade ago, and more recently has been working as a product designer, educator, and reverse-engineering technician. He owns 40WestID, a product design, 3D scanning, and consulting service, and it's digital apparel brand Threeform.

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