Researchers Created a Platform That Prints With Living Matter

The living biochemical designs are made with ink infused with bacteria.

12. 4. 17 by Chelsea Gohd
Bara Krautz/scienceanimated.com
Image by Bara Krautz/scienceanimated.com

Bacterial Inks

From pizza to urine-based space plastic and even blood vessels, it seems there’s no limit to what can be 3D printed. A new 3D printing platform, created by ETH researchers led by Professor André Studart, head of the Laboratory for Complex Materials, is advancing the process by working with living materials. The specially designed material is actually an ink infused with bacteria. The machine is then able to print living biochemical designs for a wide variety of purposes, which vary depending on the bacteria used. Their research has been published in Science Advances. 

Composed of a biocompatible hydrogel, the ink provides structure for the bacteria (Pseudomonas putida and Acetobacter xylinum in this study, though other species could be used). This combination of hydrogel “ink” and bacteria relieves pain, retains moisture, and is incredibly stable. Given these attributes, one potential application for this particular ink could be as a treatment for burns. In a single use of the 3D printer, scientists can use up to four different inks, each containing multiple types of bacteria. 

Printing with a bacteria-laced gel. Image Credit: Bara Krautz /scienceanimated.com

Far-Out Applications

With living 3D printing, “The ink must be as viscous as toothpaste and have the consistency of Nivea hand cream,” according to Manuel Schaffner, a researcher and first author on the study.

There’s still much work left to be done before this technology could be commercially viable, but the remarkable technique certainly has some interesting potential.Once the two major stumbling blocks for this technology — speed and scalability — are addressed, printing with living, bacterial ink could prove to be an integral part of many ventures. The most obvious applications would be found in medicine and biotechnology, but the technique could also be used to test drinking water for toxic components and even as a filter to help clean up oil spills.

Advertisement


As a Futurism reader, we invite you join the Singularity Global Community, our parent company’s forum to discuss futuristic science & technology with like-minded people from all over the world. It’s free to join, sign up now!

Share This Article

Keep up.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter to keep in touch with the subjects shaping our future.
I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement and Privacy Policy

Advertisement

Copyright ©, Singularity Education Group All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.