This 3D Printer Ink is a Living Being: Microbial, Cancer-Fighting and Self-Healing!

There can be no doubt that 3D print technology is and will be intertwined with many aspects of our everyday life. Lately, researchers from Harvard University have presented a renewable resource material: a jelly-like microbial ink that flows out the 3D print nozzle like a toothpaste.

From 3D-printed schools to plant-based fish: 3D printing is hitting more and more headlines due to its multiple applications. Now, a recent research paper published in the journal Nature Communications labels a 3D printer ink as the future ink that calls for attention. What makes this ink progressive and exceptional compared to its bacterial ink predecessors?

The Properties and Qualities of The Sensational Ink

The ink is made of bacteria E. coli. In addition to that, the microbe cells were cultivated so that they can produce nanofibers on their own. Engineered with pre-programmable properties, the E. coli ink does not need any additional substances such as hyaluronic acid or silica to hold its shape (yet still elastic) which distinguishes itself from other bacterial ink pioneers. In spite of not relying upon the firmness of synthetic polymers like its predecessors, this viscous hydrogel-like ink made purely of microbes is not only sustainable but also self-generating since it has the ability to reproduce itself. It should be noted that once the 3D object is printed, the living ink will stop growing and remains in its printed structure, the New York Times reports.

The Miracle Ink Has Passed All Testing Rounds!

Good news: This elastic ink has withstood the tests of durability. With reference to it, the ink did not break between two pillars at a distance of 16 mm. Furthermore, 3D objects shaped in a grid, a box, a ring and a cone were printed successfully based on the video published by Smithsonian Magazine:

The researchers continued to experiment with the promising ink and came to the following conclusions. In combination with other microbes, not only can the 3D printer ink secrete anticancer drug azurin in the presence of a chemical but it can also expose and trap BPA, a harmful toxin found in plastic containers. All the evidence suggests that the microbial ink can be put to use as a cancer combatant or toxin cleaner.

Outlook: The So-Called Space Ink

With the self-healing potential of the bioink, the researchers are also aiming at building habitats in space. Since we are short on building materials, this revolutionary idea might pave the way for greener construction solutions. Taking all of these research paper accounts into consideration, the future looks very bright whether this microbial ink would be used in biomedicine or for building houses in architecture.

Would you like to live in a bioprinted building? Share your thoughts below in the comments. We would love to hear from you.

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