3D Prints Bacteria to Create Organically Reactive Material
Reported by : Irina Robu, PhD
The invention at MIT Media Lab is unique because unlike other typical 3D printing projects, the reactive material isn’t implemented as a non-printed component instead the organic material, bioLogic is a 3D printing bacterial cells called nato, a microorganism found in dry rice stalks.
What makes this material unique and ideal as a reactive material is the ability to expand and contract, depending on the moisture of the surrounding environment. The natto cells were first grown within the MIT bio lab and characterized with AFM in order to reach nano resolution, where the resulting bacterial material is extruded onto the bioLogic ‘bio-skin’, with a micron-resultion bioprinter.
The garment used by bioLogic team is infused with the 3D printed natto cells, which allows the tight-fitting ’Second Skin’ garment to transform and respond to the wearer’s body heat and sweat. Once the natto-infused bio-skin is impacted with the wearer’s body heat. The MIT Lab bioLogic team is in collaboration with New balance on the ‘Second Skin’ project, giving a potential real world application for this bacterial material within fashion industries.
The MIT Media Lab team has also shown other ways that this bio-hybrid film can be used beyond the “Second Skin”. This material can be utilized for shape and color changing, such as a tea leaf infused with the natto material that is able unfold when the tea is hot and ready. The microorganism-based material shows that organically-based materials can work as a reactant just as well as sensors and other non-printed components.