Researchers from the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands may have stumbled upon the future of tailor-made graphene materials by 3D-printing Bacteria.
“The development of more sustainable materials production is an urgent need for our current society,” they stated in a research paper. “Traditional materials production processes can utilize massive quantities of polluting chemicals, and too often the products are not naturally degradable.”
They added that a new approach to solving this problem could be the production of materials by bacteria, either synthetically modified or unmodified, which could result in tailor-made graphene-like materials.
“Many bacteria can carry out advanced chemical reactions to produce materials, including amyloid-based adhesives, biobased electrical switches, microbially produced nacre, and a variety of bioplastics, under ambient conditions without using or producing toxic compounds. However, current microbial materials production techniques do not allow the generation of bespoke material structures in a reliable or reproducible way. To allow for the production of complex patterned biomaterials, we have coupled bacterial materials production with 3D printing technology.”
While it’s easy to adapt 3D printers to print living cells, the team has run into some difficulty in regards to creating the right type of bioink, according to a recent article on NewScientist.com.
“It’s easy to adapt 3D printers so they’re able to print living cells, says Madeline Burke at the University of Bristol, UK, but getting the bio-ink right is difficult. ‘You need these contrasting properties of printing – on one hand being able to squeeze the liquid out of a nozzle, but also it being able to keep its shape afterwards,’ she says.”
The researchers will present their work at the Microbiology Society’s annual conference in Edinburgh, UK, in April.
Publication Journal: Benjamin A. E. Lehner, et al., A Straightforward Approach for 3D Bacterial Printing, ACS Synthetic Biology, DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00395