Technology Meets Fashion Through 3D Printing -- and Hypatia Studio

Hypatia Studio offers a variety of jewelry all made by 3D printing.
Hypatia Studio offers a variety of jewelry all made by 3D printing.
Photo by Amanda Moutinho

Matt Roesle never thought he would be a jewelry designer. As a mechanical engineer, he set his sights on academic pursuits. It wasn't until he was proposed to his girlfriend that Rosele tried his hand at using 3D printing. "I wanted to make a wedding ring and I wanted something unique, but I didn't have any way to do it," he says. "3D printing was a way I could make the ring I wanted."

See also: A Desire to Be Creative Brought Elizoebeth Jensen -- and Her Jewelry -- to Denver

After creating his wife's wedding ring, Roesle got hooked on 3D printing.
After creating his wife's wedding ring, Roesle got hooked on 3D printing.
Photo by Amanda Moutinho

Roesle created a software program that he could use to form a braided design. Playing around with that program, he began creating other pieces and then opened Hypatia Studio with his wife, Mahi Palanisami. 3D printing allowed Roesle to channel his background in math and science in a more creative way.

The 3D printing process varies from material to material, with each needing its own type of printer. It starts with building a model on the computer; the printer then lays down fraction-of-a-millimeter layers one at a time. The process can be used to create almost any object and has been employed in medicine, firearms and the environment. Now fashion is getting on board with companies like Victoria's Secret and Nike using 3D printing for fashion shows and product design. Such fashion icons as Lady Gaga and Dita Von Teese have also donned 3D printed garments.

Hypatia Studio features jewelry in geometric shapes, braided designs, Celtic knots and other styles inspired by physical properties -- the motion of water, for example.

Roesle's designs begin with math. "I start with an equation or idea like that," he says. "I try to find a way to visualize it that makes it interesting."

The equation Roesle used to create these fractal shapes.
The equation Roesle used to create these fractal shapes.
Photo by Amanda Moutinho

Each material presents its own challenges, and there are limits to what the computer can do. "I can't just mold it by hand into exactly the shape I want," he says. "We're limited by what the equations can do. For me, that seems natural. I don't even notice the limitations. Sometimes we'll be talking about design and Mahi will suggest something. I'll say that I can't do that or sometimes I'll go program for two days to try to figure it out."

While 3D printing has been around for years, Roesle thinks it will soon be standard practice. Blending the line between technology and fashion is the future, Palanisami says: "I hope this is just the beginning."

Continue reading to learn the inspiration behind Hypatia Studio's name.  

The owners of Hypatia Studio, Matt Roesle and Mahi Palanisami.
The owners of Hypatia Studio, Matt Roesle and Mahi Palanisami.
Photo by Amanda Moutinho

The couple named their studio after the Greek philosopher Hypatia, who was a world-renowned teacher of philosophy and astronomy from the third century. She never married or had children, but spent her time as a political activist. Roesle and Palanisami find Hypatia inspirational because she used her knowledge for good. Engineers tend to get caught in the trap of working for corporations, Palanisami says.

"That's often where the jobs are," she adds. "But then it's a challenge to figure out how to create beauty with all that we know. It's a struggle because we're not trained in that way. You're trained to be an engineer, not to be an artist."

The newest venture for the company is an app that will allow customers to create their own custom Celtic Knot pendant, earring, bracelet or ring. "So it's not only about what has meaning for me," Roesle explains. "That's why I made this tool that other people can use -- to make something that speaks to them."

Some of the Hypatia pieces are currently on display at the Denver Art Society; you can see others and get more information here.

Follow Amanda Moutinho on Twitter at @amandamoutinho.


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