Project Name:
{skin}-D.E.E.P. – Digital Ephemeral Epidermal Patterns – Temporary biomimetic skin patterns via wearable 3D printed exoskeletons

2014 – ongoing

3D printed PLA

Project Website:


Akron/Beacon Journal


The Buchtelite

The Akronist

Short Description:

{skin}-D.E.E.P. – Digital Ephemeral Epidermal Patterns – Temporary biomimetic skin patterns via wearable 3D printed exoskeletons – aims to mimic the patterns and textures of snakeskin via ephemeral impressions onto human skin.

{skin}-D.E.E.P.: arm

{skin}-D.E.E.P.: arm detail

{skin}-D.E.E.P.: arm detail

Long Description:
{skin} D.E.E.P. employs temporary biomimetic skin patterns via wearable 3D printed exoskeletons. This first investigation mimics the patterns and textures of animal skin via ephemeral impressions onto human skin.

Our first instinct led us to experiment with reptilian textures and patterns, like lizard skin and snake skin. We decided to work with the snake skin texture due to all the context and layers it has associated with it. Secondary, from an innovation standpoint, we were curious if it was even possible for us to produce exoskeletal jewelry that would imprint and mimic different skin patterns? Taking inspiration from shedding snake skin, we shed the outer layer by removing the superficial prosthesis. Revealed is the epidermis retaining the negative imprint of the prosthesis which mimics the look of serpent skin. The dermis reestablishes the smooth form of the human skin as it heals itself within the hour. The erasing of the ephemeral imprint symbolically represents a rebirth and renewal. In order to produce the texture on the skin consistent and equal pressure must be applied which means the jewelry had to be exactly fitted to the body in order to attain a uniform textural imprint. The process to produce a precise fitting piece is achieved by 3D scanning the model’s arm and applying the snake pattern to the scan. This results in an exact fitting prosthesis. The model has to wear the piece for about 45 minutes which results in about 15 minutes worth of imprints on the skin mimicking snake skin from there it can take up to an hour for it to completely fade away.

In the second iteration of this series we experiment with augmenting the textural impression through the inclusion of language in the ephemeral prints as well as material experimentation. We tested flexible 3D printed pieces that are adjustable and can be applied more uniformly to anyone without having to custom scan them.

In fashion, skin is already a medium for self expression (make-up, piercings, tattoos, etc.) but by developing a form of skin modification that can be extensive, yet temporary, we are starting a new dialogue about beauty modification. The temporary and ephemeral nature of these imprints allow for use in “sensitive” areas such as the face. Through this dermal manipulation we can achieve dramatic transformation that will automatically be reversed.
Investigating this ephemeral nature of textured patterns on human skin will not by any means provide a solution to an engineering problem, yet will act as a larger philosophical basis to conduct a discussion about the possibilities of blending nature via biomimicry. For example can we extend the modification of our skin to even alter the function of it? Can we temporarily alter the skin of our entire body to snake skin and swim faster? Use it as camouflage for facial detection? Through concepts of biodesign can we alter our skin (the feel, the function)?

{skin}-D.E.E.P.: neck – Recently we have been experimenting with typography on skin. We are planning on a larger full body garment that can be shed in layers.

{skin}-D.E.E.P.: neck

{skin} D.E.E.P.-Digital Ephemeral Epidermal Patterns – is graciously supported by The University of Akron Summer Fellowship grant and the Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center at the University of Akron – Biomimicry Collaborative Research Incentive Grant.