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Transitions Hair Solutions is creating custom 3D printed wigs for patients who have lost their hair due to disease or as a side affect of cancer treatments. By taking a 3D scan of a patients head, they are able to create a more secure fitting and more realistic looking wig that provides a greater sense of comfort to the wearer. These 3D printed wigs can even take into account the direction the hair will lay as well as the texture of the hair that will be added.
Listen to the podcast here:
3D Printed Wigs – Breast Cancer Awareness Month
We’ve got a really good real world application for 3D printing today. I really thought this one was good to bring out, both because as we’re recording this we’re heading to 9/11 here. I know that that sounds a little odd as to why we’re going to be talking about 3D printed wigs on 9/11, but it’s because that is the exact date that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s now a fifteen year survivor, which is really amazing, and doing fabulous.
This topic on 3D printed wigs is something that really seriously came about after that. We’re heading in to Breast Cancer Awareness Month and these two things are coming together for me. When I saw this, I thought that we have to talk about this a little bit. It was such a traumatic thing. My mom’s hair is beautiful and having to shave it off because you had to, she was losing it and then at some point, she just shaved it off because there was no point. It was so spotty and it was just awful.
It was more traumatic than all the drugs and the diagnosis for her because this was a part of something she was super proud of. A part of her personality, a part of her body that she loved, is her hair. It was really traumatic. I think some of the things that really even made it more painful along the way, were the wigs. They were really hot and sweaty and awful. The fit wasn’t perfect and the fit wasn’t good.
That just reinforced, every day, “I have no hair.” It was just a reinforcement of that and just hitting a pain point that she was constantly in at all times. I think great improvements here, just that was so necessary and I love the idea of what Transitions Hair Solutions, that’s the company we’re talking about. They’re out in New Jersey and these 3D printed wigs are CNC made and 3D printed.
There’s a combination of things that they’re doing. They send them out to an Italian lab to be printed. The really cool thing is that they’ve customized these to the person, the wearer, the head. I think actually in recent years, it’s been a little more of a, I don’t know if you want to call it a fashion statement or a fashion reality, that a lot of men especially I think, who may have receding hairline and things, just go and shave their heads on a regular basis.
I know my brother in law does and there’s a lot of other people that do that actually can grow a lot more hair than they show every day. When you look at people’s heads, guess what? There is a wide variety of shapes and no two heads are exactly alike. I have this gigantic bump on the back of my head. I would be so embarrassed if I lost my hair. There would be no way I wouldn’t put a wig on. Because it’s actually a huge lump on my head.
There are people who have funny shaped heads. Our brother in law jokes about it. Jeff has a really nice looking head. When he had to shave it to go into the military, he was like, “I was worried because some of the guys came out there and their heads just looked really weird.” His came out and it looks good. Thank goodness for him.
The point is, the fit of a wig. If you try to make a one size fits all wig, you’re getting what you pay for and it’s not going to be a good fit. It’s not going to be as comfortable. It’s not going to feel like an extension of your body. Here at Transitions Hair Solutions, they’ve come up with a way to accurately scan your head, represent the actual shape and 3D print a cap, that thin part that all the hair is going to be attached to. They call it the skull cap head piece portion of it that the hair is attached to.
I think they go even a step further. That’s what I think is really, really innovative about what they do, is they also understand that everyone has different hair densities. If we’re going to match the hair quality, I have extremely thick hair. They are matching the hair density, the texture. They’re even matching the color of your scalp. That’s really great. That is really making these 3D printed wigs fit you perfectly and make it fit you.
That is a really, really cool thing. I think that goes a long way to helping those that are in the midst of breast cancer treatments and all of those other things and they’ve lost their hair. That goes a long way to building confidence, support, all the things you need when you’re suffering from cancer and you are trying to go through treatment and trying to maintain a positive outlook. All of those things and how you approach that and how you feel about yourself, have a direct impact on your ability to heal.
That positive mindset that you need, tools like these, it seems superficial but it’s really not. Sometimes it goes to the core of who you are and how you feel. We don’t think it’s superficial at all. What I like about this story, it’s not just a story. It’s a reality of a company doing business, that’s very valuable business, that’s benefiting people who need to have the self-esteem of looking as they wish that they would look or as they remember themselves.
Everything about your life is disrupted to the point at which you look in the mirror and you’re not you anymore. You’ve lost you and in a bigger way than you even ever imagined. When that happens, anything that can give you a little piece of how you think you look, how you think you feel back for you is powerful.
What I really like about, beyond the positive human benefit of what this company is doing, I also really like how it’s another example of how 3D printing is being used in a production process for making a product for people. It’s not a prototype situation. It has nothing to do with it. It’s really about making something custom fit. It’s just a tool used in the process, and to tremendous benefit.
I think the thing of being able to use the technology to do some things in a way that has not been done before, maybe it’s because of the form or the way that they’re printing it or the way that they’re doing it as opposed to more traditional manufacturing techniques.
They’ve been able to make this sweat-proof. How amazing is that? Because I can tell you right now, your scalp really sweats when you’ve got a wig on. It happens all the time. If you’re wearing a wig and you have hair, you know because you sweat underneath it. It’s terrible. Heck, it happens. Tom sweats on his scalp all the time and he doesn’t even have enough hair.
On certain parts of his head, and it used to be all over his head, but on certain parts of his head, his hair is very thick. It’s thinning up on the top and then toward the back. Regardless, you sweat. Even just as a normal human being, that’s an area that you sweat. I can only imagine how uncomfortable that must be if you essentially are sticking a bag over your head. That’s what a scalp cap really is.
I think being able to innovate with using techniques that haven’t been done before, manufacturing processes that don’t allow this normally, that’s really the power of 3D printing and being able to transform and disrupt your industry and do something special.
I’m really proud of what this company’s doing and really impressed with their process here. Kudos to them. Great job, Transitions Hair Solutions. Really wonderful.
On a side note, I just want to mention that we recently did a live stream video and got a comment back from a long time listener and fan of the show who we communicate with all the time. He’s just great, Joe Larson. He basically said, “Wow, that’s not what I thought you look like. You look different in my head.” I asked him, I go, “What did you think we looked like?”
He basically thought that I was taller with darker hair, more Mediterranean looking than I already am. He thought that you had more hair on your head than on your face. I have to say, “That’s how I look in my own head.” I look taller. I think we have an image of ourselves. Why not have the outside look like that? In a past blog post, there was a picture published of us in college I think, where I had a lot of hair then. I actually had shoulder length hair. I let it grow out in college.
We’re totally throwing in the blackmail college picture right now. You want to see Tom with a lot of curly hair? Seriously, wavy.
Please, if you guys know of any other companies that are doing innovative things like this, and it doesn’t have to be for a social good by any means. Doesn’t have to involve cancer patients. It can be commercially viable. We love to hear those stories too. Anything that’s disrupting or using the technology in an unusual way or to really introduce something that was not able to be done before, we want to hear those stories, please send them our way. You can do that on 3DStartPoint.com or you can do that on social media, on the Facebook page, 3DStartPoint. You can always send an email to info@3DStartPoint.com. That’ll also get to us if you prefer to use email.
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