The use of 3D printing in non-technical industries is a topic often marginalized and rarely found in the media. However, this does not change the fact that manufacturers from cosmetics companies also implement innovations in production methods and invest in solutions in the field of 3D printing. What makes cosmetics companies reach for incremental technologies – saving time and money or wanting to attract the attention of customers?

The spectrum of cosmetics companies that reach for additive technologies is wide and diverse. However, this is not a surprise – under the name of incremental technologies we will find a number of manufacturing methods using a variety of materials. No wonder that companies, more or less known, managed to perfectly match the technology to their needs.

Cosmetics testing

The cosmetics industry, trying to keep up with the latest trends and increasingly stringent customer requirements are starting to reach for alternative methods of testing cosmetics, giving up animal testing. Already three years ago, we wrote about the Chinese cosmetics group Jala Group, which uses 3D bio-printing technology to print Asian race leather, which it uses to test its products, intended for the Asian market. Synthetic leather is 3D printed with the use of stem cells, and the finished product is used to conduct safety and efficacy tests of new cosmetic products.

However, this is not the only company that sees the future of 3D bioprint technology in the context of researching new cosmetics and medicines. BASF also presented its 3D skin model in cooperation with CTIBiotech. In their opinion, the proposed solution can be successfully used in research on the development of new drugs, especially in the context of anti-inflammatory agents and bioactive substances in cosmetics.

The use of 3D bioproduced tissues in cosmetics tests is an interesting solution for several reasons. First of all, it is an alternative to brands defining themselves as cruelty-free, i.e. counteracting cruelty to animals. In addition, according to research, by bioprinting tissues imitating human skin, we can expect a more reliable tissue response than when tested in mice or guinea pigs. The possibility of spatial printing of structures imitating the data of human body tissue can help in a more optimal assessment of the risk of possible side effects.

Mass production

3D printing also turns out to be the right way to optimize mass production. One of the companies that proves this is the luxury cosmetics brand Chanel. Ich The Volume Révolution is the first brush made entirely and mass-produced with the help of additive technologies.

The role of 3D printing, however, in this case is not just mass production. 3D printing was also used at the prototyping stage, while bypassing the limitations associated with the injection method used so far. In addition to reducing the time and cost of creating over 100 prototypes, thanks to additive technologies it has become possible to develop a unique shape of the brush.

Personalized production

However, one of the main advantages of additive technologies is profitable unit production. This advantage of incremental manufacturing methods has been used, among others in Open Nail, a project implemented by Toshiba. It is based on the creation of artificial nails, which are adapted not only in terms of color or motif, but also the individual shape of the client’s nail plate.

This is a significant advantage over universal tips that must be cut to the desired shape. However, it is difficult to say whether the solution proposed by Toshiba found its amateurs…

3D printed nails are not the peak of the producers’ ingenuity. At this year’s electronics fair CES 2020, the Korean cosmetics giant Amorepacific presented a system for creating personalized face masks, of which 3D printing technology is an integral part. Importantly, this is not just a concept – customized face masks will be available for purchase at the Amorepacific flagship store in Seoul as early as April 2020.

The process of creating a mask is based on scanning using a smartphone with a dedicated application installed. Based on the collected information, the dimensions of the mask are determined, as well as a diagnosis of the skin condition, on the basis of which the hydrogel material from which the 3D print will be made is selected. Importantly, the 3D print time of the mask is about five minutes, so that the product can be made immediately and handed over to the customer.

In South Korea, great importance is attached to skin care (much more than to makeup), and masks in the sheet are an integral part of the “beauty ritual” of many Korean women. The increasingly demanding Far East customers need solutions ideally suited to their skin – so it can be assumed that South Korea is the perfect place to implement such a solution on the market.

A year earlier, a similar product was presented by Neutrogena, but their solution is currently only available on the US market.


Magdalena Przychodniak
Editor-in-Chief of the 3D Printing Center. A biomedical engineer following the latest reports on bioprinting and 3D printing in modern medicine.

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