The possibilities for 3-D printed hair seem endless…

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

The possibilities for 3-D printed hair seem endless…
3-D printed skin has already made a splash as a non-animal alternative testing method, but now researchers have created new possibilities for 3-D printed hair using advanced software.

Produced by a team at MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group, the software can be programmed to replicate various types texture  for a broad spectrum of applications  that seem endless.

And although the initial concepts are not focusing on replacement hair for the scalp, there do appear to be a variety of applications for cosmetics and personal care, particularly in the area of packaging.

New software, new possibilities

Although the scientists at MIT actually unveiled 3-D printed hair last year, this latest concept demonstrates how that science has developed and also highlights the enormous potential for the technology across a spectrum of industries and applications.

Called Cilllia​, the programme was developed using real hair as the inspiration. Bearing in mind that hair has numerous functions, including providing warmth, a sense of touch and various aesthetic qualities, the scope seems to be only limited by the imagination.

In packaging the hair could be used to give additional texture or functionality such as adhesion properties, but perhaps most interestingly it could even be used to help make new types of applicators and brushes for colour cosmetic products.

Applicators and cosmetic brushes

What is interesting in the area of applicators and brushes is that the hairs could be refined to give a very wide range of effects for users, perhaps stretching the boundaries for colour cosmetic uses.

The secret behind the huge scope is the fact that the software allows hair to be generated at a geometry of 50 micrometer resolution, giving way to an almost unending choice of different types of hair properties, including density, follicle thickness and

And triggering movement, too

But besides textures and physical appearance, the software has also been developed to help trigger movement.

In a demonstration video put together by the development team, one of the movement concepts includes a small windmill that is set in motion by tiny hairs triggered by the vibrations of a smartphone going off.

This concept relies on the fact that the motion of the tiny hairs located on the windmill are used to trigger motors or motion sensors that in turn give way to the movement of the sails.

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