Today we’re looking at a very unusual device, the Mink makeup 3D printer.
I must admit that having little personal need for makeup, I have no actual experience in the makeup world, and thus cannot attest to the utility of this device. But I can speak to the technology involved.
The Mink 3D printer — named after combining the words “makeup” and “ink” — is designed to provide near-real-time production of actually usable makeup. This is quite an intriguing idea, as makeup is typically bought ahead of time, such that the wearer has a collection of useful shades. They can then select the appropriate color for the situation.
However, there are a great deal of colors and one cannot store makeup of every color. There are also situations where one does not have access to the makeup collection. These seem to be the two scenarios being addressed by the Mink device.
Here’s how it works: a smartphone app is used to collect — by download or capture with the camera — an image of the required makeup color. Now, don’t think of this as a “paint chip”; it could be an image of literally anything. For example, you could use an image of someone else’s eye already with makeup applied.
Once the image is selected, it’s sent to the Mink 3D printer. A consumable sheet is inserted, and the image is faithfully reproduced on the sheet. But here’s the really interesting part: the image on the sheet is actually usable makeup! By sliding your fingertip or a brush over top of the image — or at least the portions containing the desired color — you can pick it up and apply it on your person.
2D or 3D Printer?
I know what you’re thinking: this is not a 3D printer, it’s a 2D printer.
In a sense, that’s technically correct: a 2D design is being reproduced here, not a three-dimensional model, as is done by actual 3D printers. However, there are some complications here.
First, this device is mixing materials and ink to produce a thin, but not zero thickness, layer. It’s not quite like a plain 2D image.
Secondly, the device is apparently designed to produce more complex makeup materials such as lipsticks, lip glosses, and nail polishes. However, at present the device is said to handle only powder materials.
So it’s a bit of a stretch to call this a 3D printer, but then the same could be said of the work being done on custom drug “3D printers” that produce pills containing specific doses for patients. For today, let’s call it a 3D printer.
Mink 3D Printer Pricing
It weighs 1kg, and is designed to be portable. However, at that weight it may be a bit difficult to imagine many users toting it around with them during the day.
The Mink device is available today for pre-order at the reasonable price of US$295 (discounted US$100 from the normal price level). However, the company says it won’t be shipping the Mink printers until fall of 2020, over a year away.