Manufacturers of 3D printers have had a hard time convincing consumers they need a machine that takes 12 hours to make a plastic trinket. But 3D printing enthusiasts do exist, and they're coming up with lots of different reasons to want one of the machines.
This now includes magnificent 3D-printed hair. President Trump, your day is here.
This isn't the first time we've seen someone use a 3D printer to recreate hair, but this attempt produces results that seem like they could one day lead to the first 3D-printed wigs and toupees. So what's the secret? As the 3D Printing Nerd demonstrates with a model of a lion available for download on Thingiverse, there's a lot of painstaking 3D modelling required.
As the lion model is built up layer by layer by the 3D printer, the individual hairs are created as long, thin strands that stick straight out. Each one is attached to, and supported by, a plastic cylinder on the outside, 3D-printed at the same time. After that outer wall of plastic is cut away once the print is complete, all that's left to do is grab a hair dryer to soften the hairs and style away.
The results look like something out of a shampoo commercial, and while styling does take a long time to make it look like the hairs are naturally falling around the lion's head, once everything cools down, not even hurricane-force winds are going to mess up that hairstyle.
To make a 3D-printed wig or toupee using the same process would require the creation of some kind of cap that would perfectly fit the wearer's head, and plastic filament that more or less matches the colour of natural human hair. Would it be a perfect substitute? With enough finessing it could come close to looking decent, but while the texture and feel of real hair won't be there, it's probably better than some other options.