We have heard of many innovative uses of our 3D printers in recent months, but this latest example of users’ ingenuity is particularly exciting – printing bacteria!

A team from the Faculty of Applied Sciences at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands has modified a CoLiDo DIY 3D printer and developed their own ‘bio-ink’ chemistry to allow them to print bacteria in 3D shapes with millimetre-scale resolution. The printed bacteria are able to survive for several days in the printed form.

It is hoped that printed bacteria could eventually help create brand new materials. For example, if bacteria could be used to print a substance resembling graphene – the 2D material made of single-atom layers of carbon – the end product might have similar desirable properties.

The team in Delft are very excited about their work in this groundbreaking area. Assistant Professor, Anne S Meyer, commented: “We are starting work to apply our printer to printing a range of bacterially-produced materials, and also hope to begin building a second bacterial 3D printer in fall of this year, using a CoLiDo printer as a base.”

Working with Anne on the project are Benjamin Lehner and Dominik Schmieden.

An article about the Delft team’s work has been published in New Scientist.

If you would like to know more about the team in Delft click here