The Tangible Media Group at MIT s Media Lab bucked the trend that bigger is better and used their l33t 3D printing skills to produce a 3D-printed micro-pillar object they call Cilllia.
Standard CAD software is not set up to print hair-like strands of material, so the team had to start from the ground up by building a custom software program.
With the software out of the way, the researchers began experimenting with their printing system, and used it to generate a variety of different hair-like items.
The cilia can be printed in any hair shape at a range of thicknesses, with the smallest strands measuring an impressive 50 micrometers.
The researchers are developing ways of adding mechanical adhesions, actuators, and even sensors to the final product.
In another application, they printed a micro-pillar mat of cilia that could detect the touch of a finger and respond to different swiping patterns.