3D bioprinting’s impact on the cosmetics industry

To date there have been very few announcements regarding the use of 3D bioprinting in cosmetic applications, with only L’Oréal and P&G happy to disclose their work on such applications with Orognovo and A*STAR, respectively.

As it’s a very new space, it can be difficult for companies looking to utilise 3D bioprinting to fully understand how it can be used to benefit them moving forward and what they should be looking out for if this is a route they choose to pursue.

People are generally aware of the process involved in 3D printing; that effectively you’re adding layer upon layer of material and in principal 3D bioprinting is not very different. The main difference is that with bioprinting, you use live cells, which of course should remain alive throughout the printing process.

Realistically, 3D bioprinting is unlikely to be used to manufacture cosmetics, at least within any reasonable timeframe. I do however expect that within the next five years, several manufacturers will be using it in their R&D processes, initially to print skin models. Skin is relatively flat, and doesn’t need to have vasculature to be viable, making it an accessible application for testing the safety and efficacy of cosmetic ingredients. This is particularly pertinent given the recent ban on animal testing for cosmetics development, which exists in several regions in the world.

Looking to the future, 3D bioprinting could open up a range of new applications. Product development can advance at a faster rate, or provide more tailored solutions to a customer. Considering the boundaries between cosmetic surgery and cosmetic products are becoming increasingly blurred, bioprinting may even find a foothold in cosmetic surgery applications.

Despite the clear benefits 3D bioprinting may be able to provide in the future, manufacturers need to be able to effectively evaluate whether a company operating within the market has the necessary credentials to do so and whether their service model is a good fit, and need guidance as to who suitable suppliers of this technology are.

At in-cosmetics Asia I will be discussing these points at length and much more when I present 3D BioPrinting’s impact on the cosmetics industry on Thursday 5th November 2015.

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