Will this 3D printer called Mink destroy the makeup industry ?

Love the idea of owning every lipstick or eye-shadow that catches your fancy? Of course, you can't since the prices are often too high, especially for a shade that you might love. But soon all of that could change thanks to 3D printers which can help women print that lipstick or eye-shadow from the comfort of their homes.

The woman behind the idea is Grace Choi, a Harvard Business School graduate, and she has created a 3D printer called Mink that can replicate any colour into an instantly wearable cosmetic. You can check out Mink's official website here.

Choi showcased her product at the TechCrunch NY Disrupt Conference, where she says that makeup industry is making money on a whole lot of bullshit.  "They do this by charging on the one thing that is available for free, colour," she says.

 Will this 3D printer called Mink destroy the makeup industry ?

Oh look she printed a 3D eye-shadow. Screengrab from YouTube video.

Choi said at the conference that she plans to retail the product at $300 and will ensure that the ink/colours which are required to print the make up are competitively priced.

The colours will be compliant with FDA regulations as well.

Her target audience: Girls in the 13 to 21 age group, who haven't formed any habits as yet, "are still experimenting,"and might take on the new way of getting their own makeup.

So how does Mink work?  If a particular colour catches your eye, say from  a picture on a smartphone, a tablet or even a video on a computer, then all you need to do is get your hands on the hex code of that particular colour. You can do this by using freely available software such as Colourzilla, which is a Chrome extension. Mink doesn't require any particular software. The hex code is the code according to which colours are recognised by a computer software.

Then just paste the code in a program like Photoshop or Paint and cover the work page with that colour. Then hit 'Print,' and no kidding it will print the make up in a 3D dimension.  In the video, the eye-shadow comes out in a nice-little compact square which she then coolly adds to her makeup case.

"The definition of beauty is something that girls should be control, not corporation," she says.

Choi is also hoping to negotiate with the major printer companies of the world to help with the manufacturing. While Choi's idea is great, a lot of the success for a product like this will depend on the cost as well given that most of her target audience won't be able to afford $300.

Then of course there's the question of different kinds of make up. For instance lipsticks will require a heavier base than an eye-shadow.

Choi told TechCrunch, "The inkjet handles the pigment, and the same raw material substrates can create any type of makeup, from powders to cream to lipstick. Implementing this ability on the Mink is not hard to do, it’s actually more of a business decision. What we’re doing is taking out the bull shit. Big makeup companies take the pigment and the substrates and mix them together and then jack the price. We do the same thing and let you get the makeup right in your own house."

And this could perhaps be the obstacle in Mink's success. Most consumers might not be so enthused at the idea of mixing their own make-up products. 

In addition a lot will depend on the long-lasting ability of these products, the colour replication and of-course how safe they are.

While printing out eye-shadows definitely looks easy, for a lot of users, the ability to print out lipsticks, eye-liners quickly without worrying about adding the other stuff to the pigment will another factor to weigh in, before investing in a $300 printer, dedicated solely for make-up.

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Updated Date: May 08, 2014 14:08:01 IST