The cosmetics industry is a $55 billion giant, and anyone who uses makeup will understand why. A $12 four-pack of eyeshadow, a $17 bronzer, an $8 mascara – it all adds up quickly. But Harvard Business School graduate Grace Choi realized that the cosmetics industry is charging us over-the-top prices for something that technology can provide for free: color.
Her invention, Mink, is a small 3D printer that prints cosmetics using regular printer ink. And it isn’t limited to the colors you can find on the shelves – Mink can grab any color from absolutely any source. Your computer, your phone, your tablet, and your digital camera all become your color shopping devices. Find any appealing color – either from a website or via a camera – and use the color picker tool to select it.
The hex code for the color will pop up; you just paste the code into a program like MS Paint or Photoshop and send the color to the printer as a regular document. The Mink will print the color as a powder or cream in its own proprietary little container. According to Choi, the ink is FDA approved and the Mink will cost $200-$300 – a small price to pay when you think about how much money makeup-wearing people spend on cosmetics each year. The designer promises that we are about to live in a world where the internet is our cosmetics shop, and soon you’ll be able to take a picture of a friend’s lipstick and print it out for yourself at home.