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MIAD Industrial Design senior first in the world inventing new machine for Batik fabric printing

Apr 11, 2018

Geoffrey Clark, Industrial Design senior

Geoffrey Clark, Industrial Design senior

Geoffrey Clark, an Industrial Design senior at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), is inventing a new machine to reproduce the ancient Batik technique on larger-scale fabric bolts. Geoffrey’s process is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

Geoffrey is adapting an open source 3D fabrication device to create a new machine. He is making the machine using parts printed on 3D printers in the college’s Maker Space. Ultimately, Geoffrey’s invention could provide textile design companies an option for in-house rapid prototyping of designs to test designs before mass producing them, as well as provide small independent designers a way to produce Batik designs and change designs quickly.

“We’re producing highly-complex computer-generated organic patterns and producing them with a high level of detail,” says Geoffrey, who has been working on this project since he was a second-year student working part-time in MIAD’s Sculpture Lab. “The machine is able to produce designs in an hour or less, instead of days.”

Batik is an ancient fiber arts technique from Indonesia that uses wax and dye to create intricate patterns in fabric. Traditionally, select portions of the cloth are blocked out with hot wax before dyeing it. After the final dyeing, the fabric is boiled to remove the wax and reveal the design imprinted on the fabric. In addition to speeding up the process to test designs before they go into production, Geoffrey’s machine uses wax polymer filament instead of traditional wax, and eliminates the need to boil the fabric.

Geoffrey Clark senior design project

Many of the parts on Geoffrey Clark’s machine were printed on MIAD’s 3D printers

“Geoffrey’s machine helps control the wax used in the Batik process, allowing for very clean edges, which in Batik is usually hard to control with the hot wax wand. The possibilities are endless as to what the end designs can be,” says Laura Goldstein, owner and creative director of Grotta & Company in the Historic Third Ward.

“Big design companies are always looking for new ideas of making marks on cloth. Luxury goods companies like Dior and Gucci are looking for real uniqueness and creating limited edition pieces. Creative directors in the textile industry are interested in a polished presentation. There is the potential to take Geoffrey’s machine all over the world and this is extraordinary in this day and age,” Goldstein adds.

Geoffrey’s project will be on view at the MIAD 2018 Senior Exhibition April 20 – May 12. MIAD’s galleries are free and open to the public, and gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The MIAD 2018 Senior Exhibition is generously sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

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MIAD Sewing Lab Technician Maggie Sasso and Maker Space/Open Lab Manager Ben Dembroski ’01 (Sculpture) first conceived of this project.