Sep 2, 2015 | By Tess

Does the thought of cleaning your hairbrush make you want to simply throw it out? Well, according to work done by researchers at Ohio State University that is what most people do. With the average lifespan of a hairbrush ranging from six months to one year, associate professor of design Scott Shim set out to find a more sustainable design for the ubiquitous hairbrush, and found the solution with an easy to clean hairbrush model.

“We don’t want people to have to throw away a perfectly good hairbrush just because it needs to be cleaned,” Shim said.

The design of the hairbrush, what Shim has named the MAZE hairbrush, resembles exactly that as the bristles of the brush are attached to a series of mazelike rows that make up the back of the brush paddle. The idea of the design is that the rows are easy to pull away from each other, making the removal of hair and the cleaning of the brush as effortless as possible.

Shim says of the conceptual process behind the MAZE hairbrush: "Our goal was for the user to easily remove hair from the bristles. We latched on to this idea that brushes usually have a solid surface that gets in the way of cleaning. We decided that the best solution would be to create a brush with an open surface, where the user could actually open it and just grab the hair."

With sustainability in mind, Shim also wanted to simplify the making of the hairbrush by molding it out of one piece. Shim added that the MAZE design simplifies manufacturing. Typically, hairbrushes are made from the assembly of several different parts making their manufacturing process more complicated.

Scott Shim

At this stage in the hairbrush design Shim has been 3D printing the brush paddles and placing the bristles in by hand. Among the bumps in the design process left to smooth out is the material of the brushes as Shim is slightly limited by the types of plastic usable in a 3D printer. Up until now, Shim has been making them out of ABS plastic, which has proven to be quite brittle for the purpose of the brush.

Still though, Shim and his fellow researchers are on the lookout for a more flexible plastic material to 3D print the brushes with suitable for large-scale production. Ohio State University is also currently looking for licensing partners to commercialize the patented hairbrush.

The 3D printed MAZE hairbrush has also done well critically, as it has won awards for its design – it received first prize in the Beauty, Personal Care and Cosmetic Products Design category at the A' Design Awards in Italy – as well as for its sustainability efforts – it took home a Green Product Award from white lobster, a German agency for sustainable innovation.

With sustainable design on the rise and additive manufacturing's important role in it perhaps we can expect to see Shim's 3D printed and easy to clean MAZE hairbrush on the shelves soon!


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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