Architect Jenny Wu, cofounder of the Los Angeles-based Oyler Wu Collaborative, has teamed up with Illinois-based industrial 3D printing and materials company Impossible Objects to launch a new series of jewelry made with carbon fiber. LACE, Wu’s collection of 3D-printed jewelry, now includes Carbon, a separate line of sinuous pieces made possible by advances in additive printing.
Carbon fiber has long been touted as a miracle material for its high strength-to-weight ratio (allowing for novel structural applications like Kengo Kuma’s earthquake stabilizing curtain in Nomi, Japan), electrical and thermal conductivity, and chemical inertness. Though carbon fiber has been around for decades an in use in everything from tennis rackets to bike frames, it’s difficult to build structurally with on its own, similar to its cousin graphene. Enter carbon fiber composites, which have been having something of a moment lately thanks to their ability to bring the material’s beneficial properties to a broader range of applications—facades and architectural fabrics could be the next frontier for woven carbon fibers as manufacturers look to reduce weight and enhance their products’ endurance.
Back in the industrial space, Impossible Objects has brought the material to 3D printing by blending it with polyether ether ketone (PEEK) filament, a thermoplastic polymer already used in medical and aerospace prototyping worldwide. PEEK resists high temperatures and corrosive chemicals, doesn’t absorb moisture, and has a high durability and material strength despite its low weight. While it’s quite easy to buy carbon-fiber-impregnated consumer-grade filaments for 3D printing, Impossible Objects touts that it’s the only company blending it with high-quality filaments like PEEK.
Wu’s Carbon collection takes full advantage of the composite material’s light weight and non-bioreactivity. Each piece has parametric twists and curves, but the inclusion of carbon fiber means that they’re also strong enough for daily use. Using 3D printing to realize novel fashion forms is nothing new—Iris van Herpen has been laser cutting and printing fascinating and otherworldly dresses and accessories for years—but each new material advance brings printed fashion one step closer to the mainstream. The Carbon collection went on sale on November 1 and recreates four of LACE’s most popular designs in carbon fiber composite; “the Allegro cuff, Aura earrings, and the Amos and Amor Rings.”
“I’ve always wanted to design a collection using alternative high-performance materials like carbon fiber,” said Wu in a press release. “Previously, carbon fiber was only suitable in applications with simple, flat surfaces. But now we are able to produce unique geometries that have never been produced before.”