3D printed ‘living ink’ made by bacteria

This is one of the most incredible discoveries associated with 3D printing. The creation of a microbial ink with functional and programmable attributes.

The results reachable with 3D printing have now exceeded all expectations. Building buildings in record time and producing healthy and good foods for the health of the planet. 3D printing is proving capable of everything. And now there is further important news.

A step forward traditional 3D

A team of researchers from Harvard University has developed a microbial ink that can print 3D materials that possess functional attributes. The results of this incredible work, described in a proof-of-concept study recently published in the journal Nature Communications, showed that this innovative technology could be used for various applications.

Indeed, the realization of a printable ink obtained directly from microbes, without adding other polymers or additives, opens the way to new possibilities for producing materials in situations where conventional solutions might not be available. It also enables the development of materials that can respond to their environment. Being able to 3D print with these types of materials could allow for customization to specific applications.

Today, 3D printing is one of the fastest-growing construction technologies, which opens exciting career opportunities for those who want to shape a better tomorrow.

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A genetic revolution

To create the microbial ink, the team of scientists led by Professor Neel Joshi used genetically modified Escherichia coli bacteria to produce nanofibers that can be printed into three-dimensional structures. The researchers then combined the nanofibers with other microbes genetically engineered to perform specific tasks. They found that the resulting material was ink compatible with any standard 3D printer model and could produce feature-rich devices.

Thanks to this living ink, the scientists created a programmable material successfully used for two experiments. In the first, the researchers were able to produce a material that secreted the anti-cancer drug azurine in response to a chemical stimulus. On the other, they designed a material capable of removing the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which among other things, also causes fertility problems when present in the environment. The versatility of this ink also allows its structures to be adapted to other activities.

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