Cilllia- MIT’s 3-D Printed Hair
3D printers are quickly becoming part of our everyday lives. From printing prototypes of inventions, to cost effective, sometimes superhero cool, prosthetics, even food or human skin. You can even pick one up for your house at Home Depot. While these printers have always been adept at handling smooth surfaces, something that has eluded their capabilities are structures with dense arrays, and fine features, like hair or fur. That is until recently.
Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have discovered a way to bypass the usual design step in 3-D printing. By creating their own software they’ve named “Cillia” after Cilia, minute hair like organelles that provide locomotion in cells, or like eyelashes. If you wanted to use a CAD (computer assisted drawing) program, you would need to draw out each follicle by hand, then the system would translate that hair into triangles in order to print, resulting in several hours of processing for a postage sized stamp area. Something that information heavy would crash your system. Instead the team’s program creates a cone like hair shaft with stacked pixel density, reducing as it gets towards the top. They then used color mapping, red green and blue to correspond to height width and angle which they would alter to get the parameters they wanted. The algorithm of the program then quickly translates the color map into a hair model array for printing.
Applications for this include Velcro like structures of varying strength, actuators, sensors, interactive toys and objects.
This advancement to help lead the way for challenging other constraints of the medium.
To learn more about the project and it’s applications check out this article.