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Mink Brings 3D Printing Power to the Beauty Market

Additive manufacturing (AM) has something to offer nearly any industry. Beyond the obvious uses, people continually come up new ways to utilize the technology. AM offers a level of innovative freedom that is only matched by its flexibility.

Grace Choi, a Harvard graduate, has decided to put AM to work for the beauty industry. By merging additive technology with digital design and the building blocks of beauty products, Choi was able to build a 3D printer that builds its own makeup. She calls it the Mink and plans to market the system to girls ages 12 to 21. 

Digitally created image of how the finished Mink makeup printer might appear. Courtesy of Mink.

Digitally created image of how the finished Mink makeup printer might appear. Courtesy of Mink.

According to Choi, the makeup industry makes a large profit on mixing basic colors with easy-to-produce materials to manufacture makeup. The same colors used by the industry can be found in desktop printers and are FDA approved. Choi did some research and the end result was her Mink prototype, which she showed off at TechCrunch Disrupt.

To operate the Mink, a user first needs to find a color she (or he) likes. Most people have cameras in their pockets nowadays, making this part easy. The next step is to find the hex code for that color and program it into the Mink. The user will then decide on what type of makeup (lipstick, eyeshadow, etc.) to be mixed and the Mink will perform its additive manufacturing magic to produce an end-use product.

Choi says the Mink will not only be good for young women and girls who are just beginning to experiment with makeup, but also for minorities. Since makeup is mixed up in giant batches and sold in bulk, minority women sometimes have difficulty finding makeup that is appropriate for their skin tone, or that will complement the color of their skin. The Mink could solve this problem by producing makeup in any tone or color required.

Choi wants to work with printer companies to make the Mink a widespread reality, and claims it could be sold for $200-$300. With the price of quality makeup ranging from between $20-$60 for a single product, the Mink would be well worth investing in for women or makeup professionals who are choosy about their supplies. The Mink isn’t the most unusual use of AM we’ve seen lately, but it definitely makes the list.

Below you’ll find Choi’s TechCrunch Disrupt presentation.

Sources: Mink, Business Insider

About John Newman

John Newman is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering magazine. He covers the rapid prototyping and manufacturing beat.

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