3D printerWe all know certain people who have been accused of getting their hair from a bottle, but if recent reports are to be believed, it won’t be too long before we start getting it from a print cartridge too. 3D-printing technology has come on in leaps and bounds this decade, and the technology involved has reached the point where a program called Cilllia can kick out incredibly dense patches of imitation hair.

Hair comes the future

Cilllia’s aim is purely functional: the programmable hair structures are designed to work on an array of products that perform all manner of tasks, from super-strong Velcro-like fastening material to printed patterns of hair that can react to vibrations to apps that visually demonstrate windspeed.

The beauty world has been among the first people to sit up and take note of the potential of 3D-printed hair: they’re already speculating about brand new textures and animal-friendly make-up brushes. But what of the hair-loss industry?

Although we’re still a long way away from getting a new hairstyle from the nearby branch of Staples, 3D-printing is already being deployed in the industry. Cesare Ragazzi Laborotories of Italy are offering a process they call the CNC Hair System.

Clients have their scalp meticulously measured and have a mould of their skull created, which is used to create a perfect 3D printout of a breathable, super-thin membrane which acts as a second scalp.

Membrane today, hair tomorrow?

For now, this is where the 3D-Printing influence ends, as the next stage –the selection and strand-by-strand stitching of hair to the membrane, before fastening it to the scalp with a special medical adhesive – involves real hair, which replicates your own locks in colour, texture, and how it falls.

Although a measuring process for a hairpiece is the limit of the technology so far, it’s an interesting start – and can’t be too long before the 3D-Printing world and the hair-loss industry link up and take things to the next level.

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By Ian Watson

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