MIT 3D Prints Hair, Balding Community Rejoices

Could the technology one-day print wigs and hair extensions? Maybe, but that's not the end goal right now.

Researchers in MIT's Media Lab are 3D printing hair, which for many of us is quite the promising development.

The group achieved this without using CAD software, but instead they built a new software platform they call "Cilllia".

Read: MIT Team Ditches CAD to 3D Print Extremely Fine Features

Cilllia lets the user define the angle, thickness, density, and height of thousands of hairs in just a few minutes. If you think of traditional CAD, this could take several hours to process, and likely even crash the program.

Using the new software, the researchers designed arrays consisting of hairs about 50-microns in size, which is about the width of a human hair.

Could the technology one-day print wigs and hair extensions? Maybe, but that's not the end goal — and likely incredibly expensive. Instead, they're seeing how 3D-printed hair could be used for sensing, adhesion, and actuation. 

The team printed arrays that acted like Velcro to prove it could work as an adhesive. For sensing or interactive toys, the team inserted an LED light into the fuzzy rabbit with 3D-printed hair, along with a small microphone that senses vibrations. With this setup, the bunny turns green when you pet it the right way, and red when it is not.

This is IEN Now. 

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