Back in 2014, a former Harvard Business School student named Grace Choi introduced her beauty tech invention, called a 3D ‘Mink printer’ which is essentially a 3D printer that can turn any colourful image from the Internet, into well… make-up! Pretty neat, huh?
The actual product has since been refined to function as a fully workable 3D make-up printer, or Mink for short. The 3D-printer is now available on pre-order and will be in consumer’s hands in 2020.
According to an article by cosmeticsdesign.com back in 2014, Choi said that the technology provides the consumer with an option to generate any colour cosmetic of their choice for a fraction of the retail price.
Choi also envisioned a world where celebrities have iTunes-like pages for make-up where a girl can log on and print Kim Kardashian’s exact lipstick shade to wear, for example.
In a recent media statement, Choi said that the consumers today have higher expectations on how and where the products they consume fit into their lifestyle.
“Beauty content continues to move to digital and away from traditional TV and print,” she explained.
“Users are turning to these images for inspiration, creating an opportunity to leverage image colour data and transform them into physical make-up. I am thrilled to finally be sharing the Mink experience with everyone,” she said.
“Mink understands the shifting landscape for on-demand and flexibility, and beauty is no exception,” she said.
This 3D make-up printer would be a total game-changer in the beauty world should it take off. But it does come with a hefty price tag of $295 for pre-orders while the retail price would be $395 according to the company media’s release.
The Mink Printer has a mission to make on-screen beauty tangible in a whole different way.
You might be wondering – how in the world can a printer transform colourful images from the Internet into physical make-up?
Similar to other tech developments, you start by downloading the Mink app. After that, import any image you like whether it’s a screenshot from Instagram, a Google image or even a selfie from your own camera roll and choose between printing the whole image or a specific colour from it.
Then, insert a Mink make-up sheet like you would a piece of paper in a regular printer and click ‘Send to print’.
Wait about 15 seconds and the image you have imported will be printed, but it will be printed in make-up instead of ink.
Simply put, the colours that come out on the paper, is like an eyeshadow palette that you can swipe off to apply it wherever necessary.
It was noted that the Mink printer has the ability to print a whopping 16.7 million different colours, even 3D printing your foundation colour.
While this does sound tempting and all exciting for beauty lovers there are some concerns about the product and some possible downsides that’s hard to ignore.
The idea of literally printing out a bespoke shade or a blush or lipstick you like after seeing it on the Internet is a dream. Plus, with the fact that you don’t have to burn a whole in your wallet by purchasing the entire pallet, with 3D printing, you literally get everything sample size. No room for wastage and make-up products sitting on your shelves collecting dusts.
However, the texture and pigmentation from the 3D printer might not be suitable for everyone. Would it be pigmented enough? Can the 3D printer print lipsticks in various finishes like matte, gloss, or satin?
George Driver, a Digital Beauty Editor from Elle UK made a fair point about fakery. “With endless dupes and knock offs of beauty products available, will 3D printing become yet another way to perpetuate fakery?” he asked.
There is more to that. Jennifer George, a beauty editor for Elle UK also raised her concerns about quality control. “Although this sounds novel, I would worry about quality control. And ingredients, how is everything kept stable when it is essentially an ink cartridge? As fun as it sounds, it strikes me as gimmicky,” she noted.
Any girl would want the luxury of printing make-up anytime anywhere! It really is a fresh, futuristic, unique concept which wins a big tick in the sustainability department. But will we truly be satisfied with the quality? Only time will tell when the actual printer becomes available for consumers to purchase.
In the meantime, check out the video below to have a better understanding on how the 3D printer works.