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3D Printed Hair Is So Much More Than Good Esthetics

A cure for baldness? Not quite. But MIT Media Lab’s Cilllia 3D printed hair structures can be used in a number of ways, from hair pieces to motion control.


Having a bad hair day? We’ve all been there. Well, thanks to some recent innovations, we may soon be able to 3D print our preferred hairstyle in lieu of buying a wig or hair piece.

While 3D printing innovations have produced weapons, chocolate and even clothing, a group of researchers in MIT’s Media Lab has now developed a way to create thousands of hair-like structures in minutes. The software platform, dubbed Cilllia, creates programmable 3D printed hair structures that can be used in a variety of ways—for wigs, of course, but the research team is really chasing a larger purpose. A write-up on the MIT Media Lab said the research team aims to translate the functionality of hair for many different types of applications, including creating adhesive qualities much like Velcro, controlling motion in objects just by vibrating the hair-like structures, and as a way to sense strokes.

While the applications themselves are impressive, it’s the Cilllia platform that really pushes boundaries. In the past, 3D printing any kind of hair-like structure has been tedious and time-consuming, but the MIT ditched conventional CAD software and built their own program, which gave them greater flexibility, control, and obviously, speed.

I, personally, am down with the possibility of 3D printing myself some long and luscious locks rather than springing for costly extensions, but for now, I can also get onboard with 3D printed hair that serves a greater purpose.

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