Items made with ‘living ink’ could make medical supplies or clean contaminated water
Manuel Schaffner and Patrick A. Rühs
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