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 April 29th 2021, researchers led by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands announced that they had created an environmentally friendly living material made by 3D printing microalgae onto bacterial cellulose. (Living materials are made by housing biological cells within a non-living material structure. Bacterial cellulose is an organic compound produced by certain types of bacteria.) Their work was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

The team proclaimed that the plant-like nature of their material enabled it to use photosynthesis to grow consistently for several weeks, and that a small sample of the material could be used to grow more of it on site, making it regeneratable. In addition, they hope that their material will be used in applications such as artificial leaves, which are materials that chemically mimic how real leaves photosynthesise, but would produce sugars that could be used for fuel. The researchers argued that this could be used to sustainably produce energy where plants can’t grow well, including outer space colonies.

Other examples of 3D printed living materials include the work of Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros. In December 2017, architecture magazine Dezeen spoke of their work cultivating algae into a 3D printable bioplastic that they then believed could eventually completely replace synthetic plastics. (They had also created 3D printable biopolymers from other organic raw materials including mycelium, potato starch and cocoa bean shells.) Their research followed on from Klarenbeek’s work with mycelium, which began in 2011 and led to him developing a 3D printed chair made from water, powdered straw and mycelium, which was presented at Dutch Design Week in 2013.

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 “Marine algae in Gullmarsfjorden at Sämstad 4” has been dedicated to the public domain by its author (known only as W.carter) under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.