We have come across metal 3D printing making headlines in manufacturing parts for jet engines, space rockets, aircrafts, F1 cars and such. But a toothbrush? Yes, an Italian team has 3D printed metal toothbrush out of stainless steel and titanium. Of course only the handle and not the bristles. The brush looks flashy enough to gain attention and attract people who brush their teeth!
Zare is an Italian company based in Boretto that has worked over half a century in precision mechanics. They entered additive manufacturing in 2009. Recently they collaborated with Nussbaumer Design, another Italian design firm based in Novellara, to realize this exotic toothbrush. Brainstorming ideas that could use customized industrial manufacturing for mass-produced consumer product lines are always challenging. They wanted to take up a normal day-to-day item into convert into a special brand to be made by 3D printing. And they successfully ventured into this toothbrush idea in 2015.
Mio – The 3D Printed Metal Toothbrush
Nussbaumer made a sculptural design for the toothbrush handle. Its smooth curved and trophy-like geometry would have proved nearly impossible to manufacture by conventional methods. Zare has a couple of Concept Laser’s metal 3D printing machines workable with different materials. They used an M2 cusing Multilaser machine and tried with two materials: 316L stainless steel and titanium. Both of these materials are well established to be manufacturable by metal 3D printing. Besides titanium is also biocompatible and is suitable for people allergic to specific metals.
The resultant 3D printed metal toothbrush is named as Mio, Italian for ‘my’. That means that the brushes can be customized for users based on the required surface finish, material, and design to some extent. It comes with four different finishes: raw, polished, matte and galvanized. It also has a separate left-handed and right-handed version. Such a relatively expensive brush need not be replaced every few months. The bristles alone can be changed retaining the metallic handle. An excerpt from Nussbaumer’s words:
“…We contemplated jewelry, a skilled art in every phase, from conception, to production to finishing. On the other hand, we knew that we wanted to create a product that served a function. A product used every day, like a toothbrush. Useful, exclusive and not too extravagant – after all, a toothbrush is not your typical status symbol. Ultimately, we transformed a common object into a valuable, personalized jewel that accompanies its owner every day, but still remains timeless.”
Mio is not yet available in the supermarkets or drugstores. We have to wait to find out the locations where they can be purchased. 3D printed metal toothbrush might become a status symbol someday. But it does serve an important purpose though: to attract reluctant kids and bored brushers to have strong and healthy teeth!