3D Printing

World’s first photosynthetic living matter-infused 3D-printed wearable

World’s first photosynthetic l...
MIT professor Neri Oxman has displayed what is claimed to be the world’s first 3D-printed photosynthetic wearable embedded with living matter
MIT professor Neri Oxman has displayed what is claimed to be the world’s first 3D-printed photosynthetic wearable embedded with living matter
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MIT professor Neri Oxman has displayed what is claimed to be the world’s first 3D-printed photosynthetic wearable embedded with living matter
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MIT professor Neri Oxman has displayed what is claimed to be the world’s first 3D-printed photosynthetic wearable embedded with living matter
Filled with living bacteria, 3D-printed tubes coiled into a mass that emulates the construction of the human gastrointestinal tract
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Filled with living bacteria, 3D-printed tubes coiled into a mass that emulates the construction of the human gastrointestinal tract
"Pneuma 2" is a 3D-printed sculpture by Neri Oxman and featured in the London Science Museum's "3D printing the future" in 2014
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"Pneuma 2" is a 3D-printed sculpture by Neri Oxman and featured in the London Science Museum's "3D printing the future" in 2014
Mushtari is filled with living bacteria designed to fluoresce and produce sugars or bio-fuel when exposed to light
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Mushtari is filled with living bacteria designed to fluoresce and produce sugars or bio-fuel when exposed to light

Speaking at the 2015 TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, MIT professor Neri Oxman has displayed what is claimed to be the world’s first 3D-printed photosynthetic wearable prototype embedded with living matter. Dubbed "Mushtari," the wearable is constructed from 58 meters (190 ft) of 3D-printed tubes coiled into a mass that emulates the construction of the human gastrointestinal tract. Filled with living bacteria designed to fluoresce and produce sugars or bio-fuel when exposed to light, Mushtari is a vision of a possible future where symbiotic human/microorganism relationships may help us explore other worlds in space.

Part of a range of similar wearables that make up Professor Oxman's seriesentitled "Wanderers: An Astrobiological Exploration," Mushtari(meaning huge in Arabic, and a reference to the planet Jupiter) has beenproduced using a Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 3D production system with triple-jettingto create a large fluid network whose inner channel diameters range from 1 mmto 25 mm and vary from opaque to clear. The clear sections are designed topromote photosynthesis in the cyanobacteria the wearable is designed tocontain.

"This (3D printing) enabled varying levels of transparency and translucency to bedesigned into surface areas where photosynthesis was desired,” said ProfessorOxman, speaking at the 2015 TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. "Channels and pockets were implemented to enhance the flow andfunctionality of the cells – such mechanical and optical property gradation canonly be achieved using multi-material 3D printing with high spatial resolutionfor manufacturing."

Providing substance to the possibility of traveling to other worlds, all ofthe wearables in Oxman’s "Wanderers" series are intended to beself-sustaining, contained elements that support life – rather like livingspacesuits – on planets that do not have an atmosphere like the Earth's.Mushtari, in this case, was conceived as an organ system used to ingestbiomass, absorb nutrients, and then eject waste products. As such, thetranslucent 3D-printed channels are envisioned to encourage the movement ofcyanobacteria through the system and convert sunlight to sucrose for theconsumption of the human attached to the wearable.

Filled with living bacteria, 3D-printed tubes coiled into a mass that emulates the construction of the human gastrointestinal tract
Filled with living bacteria, 3D-printed tubes coiled into a mass that emulates the construction of the human gastrointestinal tract

"This is the first time that 3D printing technology has been used toproduce a photosynthetic wearable piece with hollow internal channels designedto house microorganisms," said Professor Oxman. "Inspired by thehuman gastrointestinal tract, Mushtari hosts synthetic microorganisms– a co-culture of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and E. coli bacteria – that canfluoresce bright colors in darkness and produce sugar or biofuels when exposedto the sun. Such functions will in the near future augment the wearer byscanning our skins, repairing damaged tissue and sustaining our bodies, anexperiment that has never been attempted before."

Synthetic technology that emulates human organs is fast becoming a viableand largely preferable alternative for research and experimentation, withoutthe need to source, store, and dispose of real human tissue.

Similarly, wearables such as Mushtari may also represent a method toincorporate and contain living organisms in close proximity to the skin in asymbiotic relationship that may be ideal for the rigors of long space voyagesand the surfaces of hostile planets. A living, self-sustaining cocoon thatrecycles waste and provides energy from an external source would be farpreferable to a spacesuit that simply provides support based on the amount ofconsumables you can conceivably carry.

Given the complexity of printing channels of varying thickness andtransparency, Stratasys had to develop a new bespoke way to produce Mushtari.This, according to the creative director of art fashion design at Stratasys, NaomiKaempfer, is one of the reasons that this particular element is so innovative:

"We have a fertile research collaboration with Professor Neri Oxman, onethat has great reciprocal benefits as we push each other to the edges ofexpression and technological capability," said Kaempfer. "3D printing Mushtari is awonderful example of how far this collaboration can bring us. OurR&D team went beyond the boundaries of our existing technology, formulatinga dedicated improved support structure to allow a smooth, effective process insupport of Professor Oxman’s vision."

Mushtari is filled with living bacteria designed to fluoresce and produce sugars or bio-fuel when exposed to light
Mushtari is filled with living bacteria designed to fluoresce and produce sugars or bio-fuel when exposed to light

As another partof "The Sixth Element" design collection of the "Wanderers" series in an ongoingcollaboration between Stratasys and Oxman, members of the Mediated Matterresearch group, the Laboratory of Professor Pamela Silver at Harvard MedicalSchool, and the graphic design company, Deskriptiv, Mushtari is by far the mostambitious and technically difficult wearable so far produced. This effort,however, has resulted in a new system that potentially begins to blur the linebetween synthetic and biological structures and points toward a much morebiologically-oriented technological future of wearable devices.

"In the end, it is clear that the incorporation of synthetic biology in 3D-printed products for wearable microbiomes will enable the transition fromdesigns that are inspired by nature, to designs made with and by nature, to,possibly designing nature herself," said Professor Oxman.

Source: Stratasys

Speaking at the 2015 TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, MIT professor Neri Oxman has displayed what is claimed to be the world’s first 3D-printed photosynthetic wearable prototype embedded with living matter. Dubbed "Mushtari," the wearable is constructed from 58 meters (190 ft) of 3D-printed tubes coiled into a mass that emulates the construction of the human gastrointestinal tract. Filled with living bacteria designed to fluoresce and produce sugars or bio-fuel when exposed to light, Mushtari is a vision of a possible future where symbiotic human/microorganism relationships may help us explore other worlds in space.

Part of a range of similar wearables that make up Professor Oxman's seriesentitled "Wanderers: An Astrobiological Exploration," Mushtari(meaning huge in Arabic, and a reference to the planet Jupiter) has beenproduced using a Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 3D production system with triple-jettingto create a large fluid network whose inner channel diameters range from 1 mmto 25 mm and vary from opaque to clear. The clear sections are designed topromote photosynthesis in the cyanobacteria the wearable is designed tocontain.

"This (3D printing) enabled varying levels of transparency and translucency to bedesigned into surface areas where photosynthesis was desired,” said ProfessorOxman, speaking at the 2015 TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. "Channels and pockets were implemented to enhance the flow andfunctionality of the cells – such mechanical and optical property gradation canonly be achieved using multi-material 3D printing with high spatial resolutionfor manufacturing."

Providing substance to the possibility of traveling to other worlds, all ofthe wearables in Oxman’s "Wanderers" series are intended to beself-sustaining, contained elements that support life – rather like livingspacesuits – on planets that do not have an atmosphere like the Earth's.Mushtari, in this case, was conceived as an organ system used to ingestbiomass, absorb nutrients, and then eject waste products. As such, thetranslucent 3D-printed channels are envisioned to encourage the movement ofcyanobacteria through the system and convert sunlight to sucrose for theconsumption of the human attached to the wearable.

Filled with living bacteria, 3D-printed tubes coiled into a mass that emulates the construction of the human gastrointestinal tract
Filled with living bacteria, 3D-printed tubes coiled into a mass that emulates the construction of the human gastrointestinal tract

"This is the first time that 3D printing technology has been used toproduce a photosynthetic wearable piece with hollow internal channels designedto house microorganisms," said Professor Oxman. "Inspired by thehuman gastrointestinal tract, Mushtari hosts synthetic microorganisms– a co-culture of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and E. coli bacteria – that canfluoresce bright colors in darkness and produce sugar or biofuels when exposedto the sun. Such functions will in the near future augment the wearer byscanning our skins, repairing damaged tissue and sustaining our bodies, anexperiment that has never been attempted before."

Synthetic technology that emulates human organs is fast becoming a viableand largely preferable alternative for research and experimentation, withoutthe need to source, store, and dispose of real human tissue.

Similarly, wearables such as Mushtari may also represent a method toincorporate and contain living organisms in close proximity to the skin in asymbiotic relationship that may be ideal for the rigors of long space voyagesand the surfaces of hostile planets. A living, self-sustaining cocoon thatrecycles waste and provides energy from an external source would be farpreferable to a spacesuit that simply provides support based on the amount ofconsumables you can conceivably carry.

Given the complexity of printing channels of varying thickness andtransparency, Stratasys had to develop a new bespoke way to produce Mushtari.This, according to the creative director of art fashion design at Stratasys, NaomiKaempfer, is one of the reasons that this particular element is so innovative:

"We have a fertile research collaboration with Professor Neri Oxman, onethat has great reciprocal benefits as we push each other to the edges ofexpression and technological capability," said Kaempfer. "3D printing Mushtari is awonderful example of how far this collaboration can bring us. OurR&D team went beyond the boundaries of our existing technology, formulatinga dedicated improved support structure to allow a smooth, effective process insupport of Professor Oxman’s vision."

Mushtari is filled with living bacteria designed to fluoresce and produce sugars or bio-fuel when exposed to light
Mushtari is filled with living bacteria designed to fluoresce and produce sugars or bio-fuel when exposed to light

As another partof "The Sixth Element" design collection of the "Wanderers" series in an ongoingcollaboration between Stratasys and Oxman, members of the Mediated Matterresearch group, the Laboratory of Professor Pamela Silver at Harvard MedicalSchool, and the graphic design company, Deskriptiv, Mushtari is by far the mostambitious and technically difficult wearable so far produced. This effort,however, has resulted in a new system that potentially begins to blur the linebetween synthetic and biological structures and points toward a much morebiologically-oriented technological future of wearable devices.

"In the end, it is clear that the incorporation of synthetic biology in 3D-printed products for wearable microbiomes will enable the transition fromdesigns that are inspired by nature, to designs made with and by nature, to,possibly designing nature herself," said Professor Oxman.

Source: Stratasys

1 comment
Ryan Gibbons
I like the biological direction this is going. A mini self sustaining ecosystem integrated in a spacesuit will be way better than what we have now. Once they refine it and upscale this concept to spacecraft and space stations, it will be a step to making space travel a little less hostile to human life.