AVEDA Congress 2013 Showcases 3D Printed Sculptures

25 Oct

AVEDA_SLS_Models_23D Printed intricate headpiece sculptures designed by Ray Civello and Stephen Ma and manufactured by Solid Concepts took to the catwalk at Aveda Congress 2013 last weekend.

In our industry, we do a lot of modeling. In fact, every product Solid Concepts manufactures has its inception in the wonderful world of 3D CAD and prototype modeling. Last weekend “modeling” took on a new meaning, added a high fashion runway, and collided with cutting edge 3D Printing technology when we attended AVEDA Congress 2013.

What was Solid Concepts, a custom manufacturing company with strong roots in the realm of additive manufacturing (or 3D Printing), doing at a world renowned hair show? It all started with a napkin.

SLS head piece painted bronze

SLS head piece painted bronze

Two weeks before Aveda Congress 2013, Ray Civello, CEO of Aveda Canada and renowned session hair dresser for 37 years plus, was on an airplane drawing out the beginnings of a design of three high-fashion headpieces. “It’s the old story honestly: I drew little shapes on the back of an Air Canada napkin and it got into Stephen Ma’s hands and that’s how it happened,” says Civello. “Stephen, a talented CAD designer, came to see me and he was very excited. The whole process took one and half to two weeks – it was meant to be – and I’m very grateful and thankful to all you guys [Solid Concepts].” Civello, who planned to make Aveda Congress 2013 his last time on stage, wanted to make his final statement something very unique, something more than hair.

“I’ve been doing hair for 37 years,” says Civello. “I was what they called a session hair dresser, meaning I specialized in photo shoots doing editorial and advertising – I traveled everywhere. I got known for doing sculptures out of everything from fabric to paper [for these photo shoots] and so photographers were always calling me in saying, ‘Could you do this with clay?’ I started working with any material and became interested in sculpture. Hair is interesting, but I find this [sculpturing] far more interesting.”
AVEDA_SLS_Mode_Bronze AVEDA_SLS_Mode_Silver AVEDA_SLS_Mode_Gold

Civello’s Aveda Canada has a massive workshop filled with all kinds of sculpting materials. It’s a collection – an amalgam, if you will – of the ingredients for creation by hand. But as Civello watched his team put shape after shape on the table in an attempt to bring his napkin sketch of the headpieces to life, he realized the workshop wouldn’t be able to deliver his vision. By hand, the production was too raw. “I watched the team work and I could see it just wasn’t going to make it; it would be organic, raw architecture which was not what my eye, my head and my heart was looking for. I was looking for something very refined, something extremely sophisticated and beautiful. I wasn’t looking for something hard and geometric in that sense; I was looking for something that still had the romance of roundness to it but refined and elegant.” Civello’s team struck out, spray painting and sanding everything from branches to chopsticks. “We were trying to figure it out but we were far, far away. It would have never worked [by hand]. 3D Printing gave us the opportunity to look at a whole different way of approaching the design. The [3D Printed] outcome is really what I was looking for: Refined, beautiful, elegant and very detailed. I can’t imagine how we would’ve gotten that amount of detail by hand, it just couldn’t exist.”

Stephen Ma, the designer who providentially met Civello in the weeks before Aveda Congress, modeled Civello’s designs in 3D CAD and sent them to Solid Concepts. Ma had worked with Solid Concepts during his undergraduate career while attending the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and had enjoyed the engineering collaboration and the familiarity of a manufacturing company he could trust with the tight timeline. Solid Concepts’ collaboration with Ma was successful in bringing Civello’s creation to life with 3D Printing and painting from our professional finishing department.

Stephen Ma's 3D rendering of the gold headpiece.

Stephen Ma’s 3D rendering of the gold headpiece.

Solid Concepts used Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology to build Civello’s sculptures layer by layer. SLS is perfect for this kind of application, where thin branches stretch and intertwine and delicate overhanging features sprout out over each other in an entangling engagement of space and flow. Selective Laser Sintering doesn’t use build supports, but rather builds in a supportive bed of nylon powder. The nylon is flexible enough to meet the organic curves of the models’ heads and strong enough to withstand the weight of its outermost features even though the base is rather small. It took a good amount of 3D Modeling know-how from Ma to bring the piece together, and a wonderful collaboration between Ma and Civello to render Civello’s drawings into a printable piece.

Civello wanted to bring to life something unique and special; something that wasn’t about hair but about art: “It was an anti-hair statement at a hair conference,” Ray says with a smile. “But Congress, which is maybe the best hair event in the world, is really a celebration of the craft; the product takes a back seat to support and celebrate art.”

And the outcome of the 3D Printed hair sculptures is, in Civello’s words, “Spectacular. We did get a standing ovation.”

Last weekend, the modeling was in the physical realm rather than the virtual realm of 3-D modeling. In a way, it gave us the feeling our customers express all the time, which is that holding a physical rendition is not comparable to anything in the virtual realm. Beholding the headpiece sculptures on the catwalk during Aveda Congress 2013 was beyond any performance we could have imagined (especially given that we’d only seen them previously being delicately dusted from the Selective Laser Sintering powder and then painted). It was an experience none of us will forget.

Ray Civello and Stephen Ma

Ray Civello and Stephen Ma


Stay tuned for more on the conference, including an exclusive video interview with Ray Civello and Stephen Ma, an up close look of the headpieces being adorned upon the models heads, and the catwalk unveiling!


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  1. AVEDA Congress 2013: The Art of Hairdressing with 3D Printing - Solid Concepts Blog - November 14, 2013

    […] and editorial shoots for over 37 years. We were thrilled to work with him for the collaborative AVEDA Congress 2013 project, which included three beautiful 3D Printed headpieces manufactured using Selective Laser Sintering […]

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