Hit print. Get a hairpiece. That's the idea behind a surprising new tool to help people losing their hair — a 3D printer. It's given a Bronx woman a life-like hairpiece — and confidence. Borough reporter, Erin Clarke, explains.
"You can do so much," said Bronx resident Sandra Maldonado. You can put it up, you can wash it naturally, you can curl it."
This was Sandra Maldonado just a couple of years ago — and this is her today — with a full head of hair.
The 64-year-old health teacher from the Bronx rapidly began losing her hair, and her confidence along with it, when she was in her 40s.
"I was kind of shy and more introverted," she said.
She tried new hair styles and hair-care products to cover her bald spots, but nothing really worked, until she discovered an Italian company, Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories.
The company carefully measures a client's head and then creates the hairpiece with a 3D printer — a device that creates three dimensional objects from a digital file.
"Here we have the exact replica of the head of Sandra that we have done in Bologna with the 3D printing technology," said Stefano Ospitali, CEO of Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories. "And we start with this cast over the head of Sandra that represents the area that needs to be covered."
Maldonado says no one even knows she's wearing a hair piece because it looks so realistic — created with a material that replicates a scalp so well that it can fool some microscopes. Strands of actual human hair were injected individually to match her hair growth pattern.
A medical grade adhesive keeps it affixed to her head so it stays put even on a gusty day and during other activities, too.
"It's possible swimming, take a shower and also the intimacy, you don't have problems if someone cross their hand over your hair," she said.
The company came to the United States three years ago and since then it has expanded to 18 states with multiple locations in the tri-state area.
One of these high-tech 3D hairpieces typically costs a few thousand dollars. In Italy the procedure is covered by health insurance. Cesare Ragazzi is hoping that will eventually happen here since the hair loss of many clients is the result of a medical condition.
For more information on the comapny go to CesareRagazzi.com.