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You Can Now 3D Print a Toupee

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Plastic hair printed onto a troll doll.

Using a technique similar to pulling a hot glue gun away from an object, researchers at Carnegie Mellon figured out how to use a plastic substrate to 3D-print hair.

Credit: Gierad Laput

Owners of three-dimensional (3D) printers will be able to fabricate plastic hair using a method developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

The technique, called "furbrication," is similar to what happens when a hot glue gun is pulled away from an object it has been touching.

Led by CMU graduate student Gierad Laput, the team instructed the printer head, which is part of the 3D printer that layers the substrate, to dot the surface of a model with a little ball of melted plastic. Instead of adding another layer as it usually would, the printer head then pulls away and a thin, soft string of plastic forms between the printer head and the model's surface. When this process is repeated over and over, a clump of hair, fur, or brush bristles forms. The length and thickness are determined by how fast and far away the printer head pulls away from the surface.

Laput says the researchers also have developed add-ons for modeling software, which people could use to print troll dolls with wavy hair, brushes, and a form of Velcro.

From Technology Review
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