PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to produce hair-like strands using 3-D printers.

Gierad Laput, a Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), says it’s a “very simple idea.” He and his colleagues, fellow HCII Ph.D. student Xiang “Anthony” Chen and HCII assistant professor Chris Harrison, were inspired by the way a hot glue gun works.

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“You just squirt a little bit of material and pull away,” Laput said.

The hair, made of polylactide, was produced using a fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer, and it requires no special equipment aside from the 3-D printer. The researchers were able to produce a variety of different strands, including natural-looking hair and toothbrush bristles. Because the plastic hair is produced strand by strand, it takes about 20 to 25 minutes to generate hair on 10 square millimeters.

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More information on the technique used to print the plastic hair-like strands can be found on Carnegie Mellon’s website.

The 3-D printed hair made its public premiere Thursday at the Engadget Live event in Brooklyn, NY. On November 11, the three researchers will present at UIST 2015, the ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium, in Charlotte, N.C.

The research was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Google, Yahoo! and Qualcomm.

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