By now, you probably realize that 3D printing innovation has a very long reach. While in recent years it may have seemed relegated to creating whimsical items at home, or better left for engineers at NASA to experiment with, 3D printing technology has now infiltrated nearly every industry. The ability to customize products for consumers around the world is of enormous benefit, and researchers, designers, and users continue to offer up new designs and bespoke products.

The world of fashion and beauty has embraced 3D printing in many different forms, from the fabrication of dresses and shoes to eyewear, and so much more. Now, researchers have created a way for users to enjoy better use of lipstick with 3D printed applicators. Milica C. Stevic of Cosmetic Science Research Group, London College of Fashion, UK, has authored a paper on the subject, called ‘Exploring the use of 3D Printing Technology in the Fabrication of Personalised Lipstick Applicators.’

The study is not focused on the actual ingredients of makeup—in this case, lipstick—itself, but rather aimed to add personalization to the way users apply it aside from the more traditional swiveling applicator. Although the method is completely unique, it makes such sense! With the use of 3D molds, the lipstick can be applied directly to a personalized shape of the user’s lips. The study compares use of both SLA and FDM 3D printing techniques, along with the use of ABS, PLA, and a clear Formlabs V2 resin.

a) individual’s lips used for study b) 3D scan of the lips to be used for creating customized molds

To create a personalized mold, the researchers employed a 3D scanner. Afterward, they used Autodesk 3DS Max to further optimize the design. The goal was to create the mold, along with a base and an applicator cap.

Material and setting information was given in the study:

“Clear V2 Formlab resin was used as the printing material for the SLA printer whereas ABS and PLA filaments were used for the FDM printer. The printing setting parameters for V2 Formlab resin were as follows: single layer thickness 0.1 mm; activated supports. The settings for printing were as follows: for ABS, platform temperature 100°C, printing temperature 230°C; and for PLA, platform temperature 60°C, printing temperature 210°C. Both plastics were printed in a single mode of printing, high resolution printing quality with the rafts and supports option deactivated, single layer height 0.10 mm, infill 50%, number of shells 2 and printing speed of 150 mm/s.”

a) with PLA b) with ABS

Once the molds had been 3D printed, they were filled with lipstick and then placed in a refrigerator while inverted for 15 minutes.

“After removing the moulds it was found that the personalised lipstick was successfully detached only in the case of the PLA lipstick applicator,” states data from the study. “It was found that ABS could also be used. However, the lipstick retrieval from the mould was not consistently successful. In the case of the clear resin applicator, the lipstick could not be created on a consistent basis. The lipstick applicator is used by pressing the sculpted lipstick surface to the lips that deposits a uniform coating of the lipstick, thus removing the need for a mirror.”

The study, concluding that FDM 3D printing with PLA was most effective, opens the door to further production of such applicators, which surely can be expanded on in the future for a wide range of materials.

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