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Aderans Research & Development

Vital hair gets closer and closer to human hair thanks to further research and development of a macromolecular substance

Artificial hair of Aderans has evolved further by the introduction of Vital hair getting closer to human hair.
I asked Professor Kikutani who supports research and development of artificial hair as an expert of polymer science for a long time about the unique philosophy of Aderans on the development of artificial hair and about the artificial hair world which is heading for further advancement.

Gives advice on development of artificial hair unique to Aderans from the expert’s viewpoint

When did you start to get involved in the development of Aderans artificial hair and what inspired you to do so?

It is around 10 years ago when an Aderans employee in charge of development which was already successful in developing Cyberhair visited my laboratory. He originally majored in liberal science when he was a college student but he stuck strongly to how to produce artificial hair closer to human hair. In my case, it is more limited, that is, my major is polymer science and molding of polymer materials. He asked me tenaciously about what he had experienced on everything from selection of materials to molding of polymer materials, that is, what they meant theoretically. To tell you the truth, I learned a lot from him rather than giving advice to him. He would visit my laboratory at least once a month bringing artificial hair made on a trial basis and a variety of data, had discussion with me for 2-3 hours and returned to his company.

I guess that it was a time when Aderans was struggling to develop Cyberhair. What advice did you offer?

In my laboratory, we do research mainly on fibers by conjugated spinning which draw excellent capabilities that each material alone cannot have by combining two or more different materials. Thus, I gave advice on the basic concept of spinning thread using fibers by conjugated spinning and the combination of nylon (polyamide) and polyester. There are some points I placed emphasis on the development of Vital hair, new artificial hair. One thing is something related to curls. It is difficult to solve this problem academically. And the most challenging theme was how to reproduce cuticles.

Why he employed nylon rather than polyester

What features does Vital hair have?

Nylon (polyamide), polyester, vinyl chloride and acrylics are commonly used as polymers for making artificial hair. Wig manufacturers other than Aderans use polyester fibers which are easy to deal with for artificial hair, while Aderans has stuck strongly to nylon since Cyberhair. So, the company strived to use nylon in Vital hair as well because the company had a belief that nylon eventually got closer to human hair.

“Viital hair” developed by its own unique technology has excellent features: its features get closer to natural hair; it is more functional as arti cial hair. It reduces extra shine seen in arti cial hair and gives natural shine by special surface shape.

Could you tell me why the other manufacturers do not use nylon?

Nylon has disadvantages. It is difficult to deal with. Nylon is softer and has lower elastic modulus than polyester. Nylon is susceptible to humidity and its features are also susceptible to moisture, which are disadvantages of nylon. Polyester is also difficult to control moisture or humidity, but in case of nylon, unpredictable incidents tend to occur. It is more difficult to handle nylon than polyester. Polyester’s melting point is around 260° C, while nylon has a melting point of 220 - 230° C, which is a big difference between two polymers.

Why do you think he stuck to nylons with many disadvantages?

One thing is refractive index. For example, the reason why diamonds sparkle is because they have a high refractive index. Polyester has a higher refractive index than that of nylon. So, as nylon has a lower refractive index than that of polyester, its color tone is soft. Hair should not be overly glossy. If a person wearing a wig is under a variety of lightning or the sun and the person’s wig shines by reflecting light differently from human hair, it will be disclosed that the person wears a wig. For this subject, Aderans performed research on diffusion of light caused by cuticles using an optical device to investigate the reflectance of each artificial hair of competitors. Then, the company found “artificial hair under development has reflectance features closest to human hair” and gave presentation on the study result at the annual meeting of an international society.
This is why Aderans had stuck strongly to nylon. The company thought that keeping improving nylon by overcoming its disadvantages would become eventually closer to human hair. The company “wished to change the attribute of artificial hair under development”. For the purpose of materializing improvement, there are two approaches in order to draw features of polymers (macromolecule polymers) efficiently. One approach is fiber conjugate spinning which manufactures fabrics as follows: combine two polymers at the part of “shaft” and “core” of a thread; then, push it out of a small hole; extend it while cooling it in the air. Another approach is as follows: melt it after mixing polymers whose attributes are different; push polymers melted out of a hole; and extend it while cooling it in the air.
Aderans attempted both approaches in order to draw features of polymer efficiently. Although many authority figures in polymer science perform research on mixing of polymers melted the company performed, it takes a lot of time to elucidate how molded objects are produced. Moreover, it is more difficult to perform research on how molded objects behave after mixing polymers melted, pushing it out of a molding machine and extending it. The research field falls behind because of its complexity. I think there are no experts who can discuss the matter in detail. On the other hand, Aderans did not take it seriously and tried to mix a variety of materials without hesitation with an aim to “encounter ideal artificial hair”. They were doing in a practical manner.
Eventually, Aderans decided to employ conjugate fiber spinning because they thought it was suitable for the features of Vital hair. The company also stuck to a molding machine itself which was to manufacture fibers. Regarding a molding machine, pigments or a variety of materials are put in it and are pushed out of the machine. Thus, I also introduced an expert who was thoroughly versed in molding machines to Aderans. Also, how to cool polymers melted pushed out of the machines is also a challenge. Nylon polymers are very difficult to cool. Then, the company developed a technology which could make patterned indented surface close to cuticles of human hair by immersing fibers by conjugate spinning pushed out in hot water and by adjusting the water temperature in order to make cuticles. Of course, eventually, the most reliable way of confirming the quality of artificial hair was a feel when touched, not with a microscope.

Development of artificial hair is a stunning research area in polymer science

You have been involved in the development of Aderans artificial hair. How do you feel about it?

My area of specialty is to spin thread. Artificial hair is special molded material. In the last ten years, Aderans would visit me and ask about fabrics related to artificial hair. They asked me what would happen if they did so or based on a flash of intuition, all of which made me astonished. I, an expert, would be surprised all the time. What they told me made me think “What is it?”. Polymer science is a field in which it is extremely difficult to predict the outcome before something occurs like “This will happen” and “it may be able to explain retrospectively after something occurs”. Thus, my role is to think the reason retrospectively why an unexpected phenomenon is happening in polymer science for which they visited me to ask and extend its possibility as much as possible. Now, I myself am interested in the development of artificial hair because I recognized how interesting artificial hair was.
Also, as one of the subjects related to artificial hair was interesting, one researcher did research on the subject. As a result, he earned a PhD in the subject. Developing new artificial hair is so stunning that it makes me feel wonder what is happening to polymer science. As for new artificial hair developed recently, we could understand around 70% or 80% of its principles but there are something left which cannot be explained based on polymer science about which we understand.

What kind of artificial hair will you develop next?

Artificial hair which we are developing with Aderans gets closer to human hair. Next, I wish to make artificial hair using raw materials same as human hair by injecting protein as a natural material.

Artificial hair which is almost same as human hair will become available in the near future, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. Now, I will talk about my dream (laughing).
I think there are two approaches in order to develop artificial hair: develop it for oneself or outsource manufacturing and use. Aderans has chosen in-house production, which is a quite rare case globally as well.
When a customer comes to Aderans, the company takes the trouble to make a wig after checking the direction of the customer’s hair growth. In addition, the company makes thread after checking customer’s hair and making thread suitable for it. Ultimately, if it becomes possible to make threads by each customer, it will be ideal artificial hair. This is not impossible if you have an abundance of experience. In short, you make artificial hair to suit the customer’s own hair taking the hair quality and its appearance into account as well. It is only Aderans with its corporate policy of producing artificial hair on its own that has a potential to do this in the future. If you outsource manufacturing like the other manufacturers, it is completely impossible. This is all about my dream of developing artificial hair.
Individual manufacturing is growing at an extremely rapid pace now. 3D printing is a technology which may be useless in light of mass production, but it is very important in that it can deal with individual requests carefully. It would be marvelous if it could be materialized.

Interviewer/writer: Akiyoshi Sato Photographer: Kuninobu Akutsu

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