Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

On December 9th 2019, the ETH Zurich university of Switzerland unveiled what a university press release described as “a new method for turning nearly any object into a data storage unit.” A team of researchers devised what they referred to as “a ‘DNA-of-things’ (DoT) storage architecture,” which involved: encoding computer data into synthesized DNA; embedding the DNA into microscopic glass beads, and infusing the beads into a 3D printing material.

As a proof of concept, the team 3D printed a Stanford Bunny containing the code used to 3D print it. (The university press release stated this was circa 100kb of data, in the paper’s abstract this was 45kb; it is unknown why this contradiction happened.) The code was extracted by cutting off a small piece of the rabbit, melting the plastic to extract the DNA, and using a DNA sequencer to obtain the data. This was repeated 5 times such that a 3 times great-grandchild of the original rabbit was made. (The Stanford Bunny refers to a computer graphics 3D test model developed at Stanford University in 1993.)

To test the technique’s scalability, a 1.4mb short film about the Ringelblum Archive was stored in a lens in a pair of glasses. (The Ringelblum Archive refers to a secret archive documenting life in the World War II Warsaw Ghetto that had to be hidden from Hitler’s troops in milk cans; it is now listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.) The team argued that the technology could be used to store health records in medical implants, or hide information in everyday objects via a technique called steganography. (This can be defined as “deliberate concealment of data within other data, as by embedding digitized text in a digitized image.”)

Nonetheless, DNA digital data storage is still arguably impractically expensive, with one of the paper’s authors claiming that translating a 3D printing file like the one stored in the rabbit’s DNA would cost circa 2,000 Swiss francs. A May 2018 study in the journal3 Biotech” proclaimed that despite DNA’s potential as a data storage medium, it is far too expensive, has slow reading and writing mechanisms, and is too vulnerable to errors.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “MET DT5299” has been dedicated to the public domain by its author under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.