3D Printing Bacteria to Create New Materials

Jeff 3D Printers, 3D Printing, Materials Leave a Comment

While plastic was the first material that was used in a 3D printer, inventive researchers have been developing ways for other substances to be used to create custom-made objects ranging from metal to exotic composite materials. Now, a group in Holland is 3D printing bacteria to create anything from false teeth to microlenses that can boost the power of solar panels.

Bacterial 3D printing system

The idea was to take a commercial 3D printer, remove the heating element that would tend to kill bacteria, and add a syringe and a pump to output liquid bacteria. The live bacteria are mixed with a unique polymer that becomes stable when it combines with calcium ions. The printer makes a layer of the bacteria on calcium, making a firm scaffold. In this way, customized fake teeth can be made.

Once the bacteria are passed through the printer, chemical reactions can be induced to create a broad range of materials. One process can create a material called bioglass from which lenses can be made that can then be used for solar power, photography, and a host of other applications. Another method, cheaper than conventional techniques, can create objects using graphene. Graphene is a material that is harder than a diamond but conducts electricity more efficiently than copper wire. It is considered the new super material that will revolutionize a wide variety of technologies ranging from power generation to space travel. Standard methods of creating graphene generate chemical waste as a byproduct and require a lot of energy.

Freelance writer at SexShop3D.com

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