How 3D Printing is Impacting the Cosmetics Industry. Interview with Sohrab Kothari

3D printing technology is making a significant impact on several industries, including the cosmetics and personal care industry. COSMETECH spoke to Sohrab Kothari, Co-Founder, SAHAS Softech LLP to understand how 3D printing can help the Cosmetics & Personal care industry. 

Q. What is 3D printing technology? 

3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. 3D Printers Creates components with layer on layer deposition. 3D Printing can give the advantage of making complex geometry without the limitations of traditional manufacturing processes. The layer on layer deposition can help in manufacturing components without excess wastage of material in comparison to traditional subtractive manufacturing processes.

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Q. Can you give us a little bit of its history

3D Printing is actually not a new technology, infact the first every concept initiated by Dr. Hideo Kodama from Japan in 1981. Dr. Kodama is the first person ever to apply for a patent in which laser beam resin curing system was described. Unfortunately, the Japanese doctor’s application never went through. Due to issues with funding, he was unable to complete the process before the one-year deadline. The first documented invention of 3D Printing was dated 1984, by Charles “Chuck” Hull. He suggested using a UV source lamp to cure the photosensitive resin layer by layer. The patent issued in 1986, and in the same year, Charles started his own company. They released their first commercial product, the SLA-1, in 1988. During the same year Charles Deckard filed a Patent for SLS which was sintering of thermoplastics, power based material with high intensity lasers. The technology has evolved since then where more deposition methods has innovated. There are about 8-9 different 3D Printing technologies now. 

Could you describe the process of the technology?

It all starts with a 3D digital model. You create one yourself or download it from any open platforms like thingiverse. When creating it yourself you can choose to use a 3D scanner, haptic device or available open source or industrial 3D modelling software. Then the existing 3D Model sliced into 100s or 1000s of layer depending on the dimensions in the printers slicing software. The slicing software give movement code of either the laser path or binder jetting or nozzle movement.
When your file slices, it’s ready to be fed into your 3D printer. This can be done via USB, SD or internet. Your sliced 3D model is now ready to 3D print layer by layer deposition of material.

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 Q. What about the material for printing?

Out of all the raw materials for 3D printing in use today, plastic is the most common.Plastic materials are available in multiple characteristic. Filament, Photosensitive resins, Thermoplastic powder and composites. The technology defines which material is used for the specific 3D Printer. Materials like ABS, PLA, TPU, Nylon, PMMA, PC, PETG, PVA, composite powders with glass filler and mineral fillers, High Performance plastics like Ultem, PEEK, PEAK etc are processable in 3D Printers. Composites such as carbon fiber are used in 3D printers as a top-coat over plastic materials.

The second-most-popular material in the industry of 3D printing is metal, which is used through a process known as direct metal laser sintering or DMLS. The application will define the metal to be used Stainless steel, maraging steel, Nickel, aluminium, titanium, gold, bronze etc. In the printing process, metal is utilized in dust form. The metal dust is fired to attain its hardness

 Paper based printing also is one of the technologies, Laminated Object Manufacturing. layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic, or metal laminates are successively glued together and cut to shape with a knife or laser cutter.Ceramics and gypsum composites have been a hot trend in 3D printing materials for a while now. The 3D printing technology works by gluing together powder with monochrome or color binders.

Bioprinting is an additive manufacturing process where biomaterials such as hydrogels or other polymers are combined with cells and growth factors, then printed to create tissue-like structures that imitate natural tissues.

 Q. Can you tell about the applications for the cosmetic industry?

 Applications can be numerous for the cosmetics industry.

  • Prototyping for design validation, new product development and innovations.
  • New packaging developmen
  • Manufacturing of conformal cooling molds
  • Premium individual customization of products.
  • Tissue engineering


Q.What are the benefits?

 New Product development and quicker TTM

 Two fundamental aspects of the cosmetic industry lie in their product and its packaging. Design and the material of the packaging are of far greater importance to the cosmetic sector, and if they can empower their customers with the option of custom-made shape and size, it may be a cherry on top kind of situation for both consumers and cosmetic industry. Since the industry is fast moving and product turnaround is faster, 3D printing can help in making the evaluations of new products faster and thus leading to faster time to market.


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Conformal Colling Molding

Conformal cooling 3D Printed injection molds can help in the efficiency of manufacturing by reducing the manufacturing cycle time and lower rejections due to shrinkages and warpages. Hence getting reduction is cost of manufacturing for fast moving consumer items.

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Individual and Mass Customization

If a user can devise a product of their own choice of colour and pigment type, it will create a revolution in the way products are produced in the cosmetic industry. And that is why brands are dabbling into 3D printing technology to create waves in the beauty industry. With access to a gamut of colour palette, brands can personalize products for consumers.

Mink Cosmetic Printer

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Brands are mass customizing products which are completely manufactured by 3D Printing and innovating unique and high efficiency products Eg: brands are optimizing the mascara brush bristles with mirco cavities allowing smooth and even application without clumping. It also avoids the need to redip the brush. 

Chanel 3d printed mascara

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Custom manufacturing of products also allows the companies to have flexibility in operations and lower investment is stock and raw material. This flexibility can be achieved through on demand manufacturing and reduced wastage of raw material due to additive manufacturing.

Tissue Engineering and Bio Printing

Scientists have used skin models and bio-ink technology to successfully create printed skin, complete with a dermis, epidermis and basement membrane. With animal testing being banned in many countries , this could be a boon. Plus, 3D printing live tissue allows cosmetic brands to invest more research into developing customized products.

Neutrogena’s MaskiD

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3D printing has already started making an on the cosmetic industry. Many brands are turning towards additive manufacturing as a way to create innovative designs and offer extreme personalization. Many brands have taken a leap to explore the possibilities and we foreseemany evolutionary and innovative productsentering the industry with the aid of 3D Printing.