Charne Esterhuizen cannot count how many 3D printing seminars she attended as the only fashion designer in a room full of doctors.
Pushing the boundaries of fashion will pay off when her extraordinary dress made of 150 rubber butterflies hits the runway with the world's top emerging designers this month.
The dress, like no other made by a small-time Australian designer, will be sure to turn heads at the 2017 Vancouver Fashion Week.
"It is the first be made to this scale nationally, because you have big brands that have done 3D printing, but this is a completely different and experimental way of printing," the 23-year-old Canberra woman said.
"I used a modular system, so I multiplied the object of the butterfly, created into a fibre and connected them one by one until the dress was 175 centimetres long."
Ms Esterhuizen was sponsored by two 3D printing companies, which covered the cost of six machines that took 5.5 hours to print each butterfly.
"We had the machines printing for a week and a half non-stop," she said.
"All together we calculated with all the time and took, all of the material and processes, the dress would cost about $90,000."
While the dress is far heavier (and more expensive) than a typical outfit, Ms Esterhuizen assured it was wearable - although advised model to wear a skin-coloured swim suit underneath.
She used the excesss rubber to create a matching 3D handbag, and hopes to reprint the dress in 4D to make the butterflies able to flutter.
"The idea of this dress and my collection is to express yourself freely, to just be yourself and be confident despite what other people think," she said.
Ms Esterhuizen's love of fashion began when she moved from South Africa to Canberra at aged 16. She studied fashion at TAFE and won numerous awards for her designs before taking the plunge in starting her own clothing label, MAAK.
Soon her bold and daring designs were featured fashion shoots by famous bands.
Her expensive trip to Canada has been funded through crowd-sourcing, her main sponsors Aussie 3D and 3dGence and savings from the full-time job she manages to balance with designing.
Having recently become a manager at Aussie 3D, Ms Esterhuizen is exploring environmentally friendly ways of 3D printing.
"Fashion is one of the biggest waste industries in the world and with the future technology of 3D printing we can make filament with all natural fibres so it can be biodegradable," she said.
"Mass consumption and designers competing for cheaper garments is what increases slave labor. So we are working on how locally-manufactured and environmentally ways of 3D printing can combat this."
"I'm educating schools and the wider community about the benefits of 3D printing to the fashion industry."
Vancouver fashion week: March 20-26