Bacterial Ink to Create 3D-Printed Biological Minifactories

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3D Printing using living matter is being worked on at a lab called ETH out of Zurich, Switzerland.

3-D-printed minifactories

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Researchers have developed a biocompatible ink for 3-D printing using living bacteria. This makes it possible to produce biological materials capable of breaking down toxic substances or producing high-purity cellulose for biomedical applications….

There will soon be nothing that cannot be produced with 3D printing. However, the materials used for this process are still “dead matter” such as plastics or metals.

A group of ETH researchers led by Professor André Studart, Head of the Laboratory for Complex Materials, has now introduced a new 3D printing platform that works using living matter. The researchers developed a bacteria-containing ink that makes it possible to print mini biochemical factories with certain properties, depending on which species of bacteria the scientists put in the ink.

“Flink” harnesses the range of bacterial products

Studart’s group members and first authors Patrick Rühs and Manuel Schaffner used the bacteria Pseudomonas putida and Acetobacter xylinum in their work. The former can break down the toxic chemical phenol, which is produced on a grand scale in the chemical industry, while the latter secretes high-purity nanocellulose. This bacterial cellulose relieves pain, retains moisture and is stable, opening up potential applications in the treatment of burns.

The ETH researchers’ new printing platform offers numerous potential combinations. In a single pass, the scientists can use up to four different inks containing different species of bacteria at different concentrations in order to produce objects exhibiting several properties.

 

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