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Laser Shibori: A digital moulding technique supporting circular textile design in three dimensions

Morgan, Laura; Kane, Faith; Tyrer, John; Shen, Jinsong


Dr Laura Morgan
Wallscourt Fellow in Design and Material Futures

Faith Kane

John Tyrer

Jinsong Shen


This paper considers the potential for digital laser technology to facilitate sustainable innovation in the field of textile design and manufacture, enabling transition towards a circular economy. Using recent design research as a case study, it discusses a newly developed Laser Shibori technique and its significance in relation to circularity. Laser Shibori describes a digital moulding technique for three-dimensional surface design and sustainable textile finishing that can be used to design accurate surface architectures for synthetic textiles. Using the photothermal energy of a CO2 laser, the method combines two heat dependent processes: heat setting and textile colouration, resulting in an effect akin to shibori. Unlike the traditional craft practice, Laser Shibori offers precise digital control, repeatability and a unique aesthetic. The study demonstrated the benefit of interdisciplinary research, synthesising design and science to support sustainable material innovation. The synthesis of material science and creative design practice proved essential in developing the laser technique and created a platform for material innovation beyond creativity as discussed through potential functional application ideas and sustainability benefits. The methods described in this paper provide a system to control three-dimensional effects through controlled tension and targeted laser irradiation. The use of laser technology to create three-dimensional textile forms presents processing advantages over traditional methods: the laser does not require physical moulds or complicated set up and offers ease of pattern change through digital generation of designs. The laser process negates requirement for additional materials, offering reversible surface design effects to facilitate ease of recovery at end of primary use, thus complimenting a circular textile lifecycle in three dimensions: through efficiency, agility and recovery.


Morgan, L., Kane, F., Tyrer, J., & Shen, J. (2018). Laser Shibori: A digital moulding technique supporting circular textile design in three dimensions. Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice, 6(1), 5-22.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 25, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 20, 2018
Publication Date Dec 20, 2018
Deposit Date May 31, 2019
Journal Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice
Print ISSN 2051-1787
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 5-22
Keywords circular economy; material innovation; digital textiles; textile design; laser; sustainable fashion
Public URL
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