Living 3D Printer Filament

This is more than a printing filament hack — closer to bleeding edge bio-engineering — but we can’t help but be fascinated by the prospect of 3D printing with filament that’s alive on a cellular level.

The team from MIT led by [Xuanhe Zhao] and [Timothy Lu] have programmed bacteria cells to respond to specific compounds.  To demonstrate, they printed a temporary tattoo of a tree formed of the sturdy bacteria and a hydrogel ‘ink’ loaded with nutrients, that lights up over a few hours when adhered to skin swabbed with these specific stimuli.

So far, the team has been able to produce objects as large as several centimetres, capable of being adapted into active materials when printed and integrated as wearables, displays, sensors and more.

Using a predictive model developed alongside this ‘living ink’,  designing responsive living materials where different regions of each print are able to communicate after a fashion of input and output signal luminescence is possible. Taking this to an extreme, a far future goal would to be printing ‘living’ computers.

Until then, it’s becoming possible to be a biohacker on the cheap.

[Via MIT News]

15 thoughts on “Living 3D Printer Filament

  1. maybe one day we’ll incorporate new organs into our genome. Like a co-processor or even a radio transceiver perhaps. no need for invasive surgery and artificial implants, just good old self-healing, self-replicating organics.

    1. First the academic and industry leadership needs to grow up and act it’s age. The latest techology is juvinille delinquent to keep pan troglodyte entertained, confused, divided and coquered seems.

      Second, syngrafts or autografts need to be able to be printed from donors optimized cultured cells to form tissues to form organs.

      Not virtual insanity with necromancers that make a bunch of foolish false pretense operations to make people believe the “land of make believe” and not realized how many idiots sit in commands that toy with people 24-7-365

    1. It’s just proof of concept. 3D printing with hydrogel has been done. Now we can print them with embedded bacteria. Next step – Embedded Human Cells. After that, who knows? Getting stem cells to differentiate the way you want them to in this process is a tricky problem that has as yet no easy solution. Maybe the appropriate molecular signals could be injected into the stream right at the nozzle. Who knows, maybe other printing challenges could be overcome that way too. Why should we limit extrusion to just the raw filament?

      1. Seems there can be like a slip stream or even another nozzle if not more nozzles added to the system. Technically, there can be deposition of ligands or other materials with another nozzle after each cell layer and other idea. Man, I recently had a thought about picoliter dosing systems on another article thoughts section.

        Man, I get emotional magnified thinking about 3D printing living stuff. I have to calm down… I get angry about the status of the advancement of the field and science… not only the present state.

        Technically, the environmental conditions need to be optimized also for the printer and maybe designed for optimal transition steps between systems processing steps.

        1. Also, I’m thinking there can be seamless automatic transitioning of the “filament” advances made in the 3D printing and dispensing tech, or really other materials dispensed kind of thinking like a plate culture process or in a reaction vessel process operation more-so when making peptides and proteins though really the printed organ the structures are going to be printed somehow in way more complex ways. Proteins will fold based on conditions and not really like an incubator so much say with certain cells though can kind of think that way in regards to environment. Probably more a polymorph or really isomer purity when chaining the amino-acids together from the amino-acid inks or filament media perspective if looking that at even using 3D printing in that way.

          This reminds me like you noted with cell signalling how to regenerate organs and really… triggering DNA/RNA (if that is the correct term) to form the actual shape may be the easy way to proceed with the operations for certain organs or in general. Like modify the organism cells by differentiating back to the pleuripotent cell type and redifferentiating to the desired cells and structures. I may be wrong though and that may be how the media will be made to prevent rejections to the recipient. I guess I was thinking this from growing tissue systems in an incubator versus each cell type and surrounding materials required for air and blood circulation and nervous tissue signals transmission for the different range of organ systems required for the organ being printed. I think I just wrote down enough confusing information to confuse myself and not give away too much in critical detail.

  2. Awesome article James as well as presentation and research. Is really neat even though I do get emotional with the advancements in 3D printing, or growing in the lab or surrogate, human organs. Really pathetic the huge investment in DOD and DHHS where they seem to only invest in dis-easing the best families that used to live longer life cycles to live shorter lives and not perpetuity concerned versus any idiot that believed them who natural would die earlier live longer in contrast to what you’d think their title claimed. Seems like since the 1870’s in the U.S. the World’s narcotics and pharma junkies have been drugging the U.S. to death and replacing with primitive predatory lifeforms in general. Maybe I am in the great lakes mafia WWII POW states pure FUBAR and having that moment.

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