3D printed ‘living ink’ could lead to self-repairing buildings


It doesn’t matter what 3D printing devices are – eventually the material could have a life of its own. Phys.org reports scientists have developed a “living ink” that you could use to print equally vivid materials that can be used to create 3D structures. The team genetically engineered cells for E. Coli and other microbes to create living nanofibers, bundled those fibers together, and added other materials to produce an ink you could use in a standard 3D printer.

Researchers have already tried to produce living materials, but it has been difficult to get these substances to adapt to the expected 3D structures. It was not a problem here. Scientists have created a material that releases an anticancer drug when induced by chemicals, while another removes the BPA toxin from the environment. Designs can also be adapted for other tasks.

Any practical use could still be remote. It’s not yet clear how you would mass-produce the ink, for example. However, there is potential beyond immediate medical and anti-pollution efforts. The creators envisioned self-repairing buildings or self-assembly materials for Moon and Mars buildings that could reduce Earth’s need for resources. Ink could even make itself under the right circumstances – you might not need much more than a few basic resources to produce everything you need.

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