New 3-D printed materials harness the power of bacteria | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


News

New 3-D printed materials harness the power of bacteria

Items made with ‘living ink’ could make medical supplies or clean contaminated water

By
2:22pm, December 1, 2017
3-D printed doll's face

IT’S ALIVE  Living bacteria can give 3-D printed materials special powers, such as producing form-fitting wound dressings. Here, such a material is printed on a doll’s face and stained to fluoresce blue.

A new type of 3-D printing ink has a special ingredient: live bacteria.

Materials made with this “living ink” could help clean up environmental pollution, harvest energy via photosynthesis or help make medical supplies, researchers report online December 1 in Science Advances.

This study “shows for the first time that 3-D printed bacteria can make useful materials,” says Anne Meyer, a biologist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands who wasn’t involved in the work.

The newly concocted printing ink is a polymer mix called a hydrogel that is blended with bacteria and a broth of nutrients that helps bacterial cells grow and reproduce. Eventually, the bacteria use up all of this built-in sustenance, says study coauthor Manuel Schaffner, a material scientist at ETH Zurich. But the ink is porous, so dipping a 3-D printed structure in more broth can

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More Science Ticker posts

From the Nature Index Paid Content