In Austin, 3D printing technology is nothing new. It’s been seen at the University of Texas, at tech events like South by Southwest and at local health care companies.
But recently, it’s also turned up at Shanna Moll’s hair salon.
The North Austin salon, which is named the Shanna Moll Studio and Spa and opened in April, uses 3D printing to build hair prosthetics for customers with hair loss . With this evolving technology, Moll said clients are receiving cutting-edge treatment without having to visit a surgery room.
"This is like nothing in the world," Moll said. "You can't feel where the prosthetic scalp begins and ends. Nothing comes close to this technology.”
Named CNC, or “Natural Contact Hair” in Italian, the hair replacement system is directed by the Italian company Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories.
Treatment begins with detailed measurements of a customer’s scalp. The measurements, along with other data such as scalp color, hair texture and curl pattern, are entered into a database. Then, a plaster casting of a client’s heads is taken.
The casting, data and a hair sample are sent to Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories headquarters in Bologna, Italy, where the company begins forming the prosthetic.
At the laboratory, 3D printers form an exact replica of the client’s head. Using the 3D mold as a guide, the company makes a biomaterial scalp prosthetic to match the head of the customer. Scientists then attach hair strands one at a time. The process takes roughly three months. The prosthetic is sent back to the studio, where it is medically adhered to the client’s scalp.
The two materials that Cesare Ragazzi says on its website are used for their its treatment - Finasteride and Minoxidil - are both approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories has been working on scalp treatment for decades. But it only broke through with the CNC technology in recent years, according to the company.
The company has centers in countries throughout the world and years ago began business in the U.S., where it now has more than 40 centers. To partner with the company, hair professionals have to undergo training.
Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories' treatment arrived in Austin with the opening of Moll’s salon. Moll has been a hairdresser for more than 30 years, but she only recently heard about the company through a client.
Because the CNC treatment is patented, Moll said there are no competitors who match the exact technology she and other Cesare Ragazzi-directed businesses use. She runs the only salon in Austin that uses the CNC treatment. Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories also has centers in Houston and Dallas.
Hair replacement can range from cheap treatments to surgical procedures such as hair transplants, but the CNC method is the most technologically advanced treatment that doesn’t require customers to go under the knife, according to Danielle Grillo, a hair stylist in New Jersey who opened one of Cesare Ragazzi’s first centers in the U.S.
“There is no other (hair) piece that you can adhere like this,” Grillo said. “This treatment helps people from young kids to middle age and some that are older. Their hair loss can range in reasons from A to Z.”
While the treatment is innovative, it’s also costly. Prices can range from about $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the customer, Moll said. Clients receive two hair prosthetics that they rotate every month for about two years.
Cesare Ragazzi Laboratorie has plans to continue expanding in the U.S., according to its website.