What do you look for in a toothbrush? I’m not too picky, myself – I like a toothbrush that will last a while, and that doesn’t cost too much. I also prefer the angled bristles. That’s about it – but if you’re someone who considers your toothbrush to be a fashion statement, you’re not going to find anything much more fashionable than the new 3D printed metal toothbrush from Italian company Zare. This is one seriously stylish, not to mention ergonomically friendly, toothbrush. 3D printed from either stainless steel or titanium, it’s a bright, delicate-looking teeth cleaning tool that will make you never want to look at a shoddy plastic brush ever again.
Oh, and it comes in both right- and left-handed versions, too. The silver brush head is interchangeable, so you can theoretically buy one metal toothbrush and use it for the rest of your life, just replacing the bristles when they get worn out – making it an environmentally friendly choice. The toothbrush is called “Mio,” which is Italian for “my,” and it’s customizable to an extent – you can choose which metal you want, as well as the finish: matte, polished, galvanized or MioRaw, which is for those who want a finish as unaltered as possible. Each toothbrush has its own serial number, and even the plastic packaging is 3D printed.
Zare, originally a prototyping company, got into 3D printing during the financial crisis between 2008 and 2010. Looking for new business fields and production options, Zare purchased their first plastic 3D printer in 2009, and never looked back. Demand for metal products led them to begin sourcing 3D printed metal items from a service provider, but, dissatisfied with that option, they bought their first metal 3D printer, a Concept Laser M2 cusing machine, in 2013. Today, the company’s metal to plastic product ratio is 60 to 40.
Eventually Zare would go on to purchase an Mlab cusing R, as well as three additonal M2 machines and finally an Xline 2000R. The company was pleased with the machines’ handling properties, as well as their safety and the surface quality of the results. The variable laser spot setting of the printers allows for increased flexibility, and overall productivity has gone up.
“For us, the change of materials was a surprise. On other machines, material changes took a very long time and were complicated, even though they weren’t uncommon for us,” said Zare Co-owner Andrea Pasquali. “If we wanted to be flexible in production, Concept Laser machines were our only choice for efficient changes of material. The LaserCUSING machines are much easier to use and offer us greater flexibility and reliability than other machines we are aware of. The M2 cusing Multilaser brings our set-up speeds to a whole new level. Depending on the component geometry and material, we have seen an increase in productivity by 30-40%.”
The idea for the toothbrush came about in 2015, when Pasquali approached designer Christoph Nussbaumer, with whom he had worked before, about working together on a new project. The two decided to take a normal, everyday object that wasn’t yet available as a luxury item, and turn it into one in a way that could only work using additive manufacturing. The idea of a metal toothbrush won out, and the Mio’s sculptural design certainly qualifies as something that can only be made with 3D printing.
“I still remember when Andrea Pasquali and I met in my office the first time regarding a new project,” said Nussbaumer. “We reflected on a product that could highlight the extreme, formal design freedom afforded by additive manufacturing. We assessed possible products, such as bicycles, lamps and jewelry. We contemplated jewelry, a skilled art in every phase, from conception, to production to finishing. On the other hand, we knew that we wanted to create a product that served a function. A product used every day, like a toothbrush. Useful, exclusive and not too extravagant – after all, a toothbrush is not your typical status symbol. Ultimately, we transformed a common object into a valuable, personalized jewel that accompanies its owner every day, but still remains timeless.”
This timeless toothbrush isn’t available from your drugstore or dentist – you’ll have to go to a jeweler, and you can find out what locations carry it here. Each toothbrush is manually finished for optimum surface quality and optimum comfort. I never thought I’d be using the phrase “luxury toothbrush” for any reason, but I have to admit: I kind of want one.
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