An ‘everlasting’ hairbrush has been introduced by researchers that can be cleaned within seconds as per the makers’ claims. The ‘maze’ design features bristles that can be pulled apart for cleaning without any hitch. According to the team behind this, the hairbrush is aimed at ceasing the conventional consumer behaviour of discarding the brush and purchasing a new one once the brush becomes clogged.
Scott Shim, associate professor of design at Ohio State said, “We don’t want people to have to throw away a perfectly good hairbrush just because it needs to be cleaned.” According to his research, the average life of a hairbrush is about 6-12 months. This life means how long an average person puts up with a dirty hairbrush before purchasing a new one.
Shim and former graduate student Morris Koo have named the design as ‘Maze Hairbrush’ because the bristles become affixed on rows of curving supports that are similar to a maze. The rows can be pulled apart for easy cleaning. As of now, university is seeking licensing partners for the commercialization of this patented hairbrush in beauty and health industry.
As per Shim he was inspired for this project when he saw his wife cleaning the hairbrush. He says, “I couldn’t understand why she had to do that. Obviously, this is not a problem for me.” He sports a close-cropped hair. He further said, “Then I did some market research, and found out how often hairbrushes get thrown out—not because they’re worn out, but because they’re disgusting and people didn’t maintain them well. Our goal was for the user to easily remove hair from the bristles. We latched on to this idea that brushes usually have a solid surface that gets in the way of cleaning,” Shim explained. “We decided that the best solution would be to create a brush with an open surface, where the user could actually open it and just grab the hair.”
He further added that the MAZE design simplifies manufacturing process. Conventional approach to hairbrush manufacturing involves manufacturing taking place in several stages of various parts and then them being assembled. However, with MAZE hairbrush, it can be done using one injection-molded piece before the addition of bristles. As of now, research team is busy creating prototypes on 3D printer and adding the bristles by hand. The printer does limit their material choice to only common plastic such as ABS that is brittle and at times might snap when the bristles are pressed into place.
As of now, the team is looking for flexible yet strong plastics that can be used for mass production and is hoping for collaborating with material scientists on this particular issue. Up till now, the brush has won two awards. It won the first place in the Beauty, Personal Care and Cosmetic Products Design Category of the A’ Design Awards in Italy and also won a Green Product Award from white lobster, a German agency for sustainable innovation.