3D printing has clearly gotten far more affordable these days thanks to the advancement in technology, but that doesn’t mean such printers are dirt cheap as the inkjets that you see lurking on store shelves all over the place. Folks over at IDEO are currently working hand-in-hand with scientists in order to find a way to have E. coli bacteria form objects, such as a coffee cup, whenever it is exposed to light. Hmmm, E. coli does not sound like the kind of bacteria that I would like my lips to cozy up to, but if this is nature’s best bet at 3D printing, I am willing to give it a chance (after increasing my insurance premium, of course).


Imagine using microorganisms to literally “grow” items that we make use of day to day – where the ultimate goal of the scientists would be the ability to “program” any desired shape via a combination of manipulations that are carried out in a special lab, ranging from genetic engineering to novel growth media.

Does this mean a self-repairing vehicle or household item is on its way? Imagine your coffee cup that breaks on the floor. Don’t call in the King’s horses and men – they can’t fix Humpty Dumpty, they can’t fix this, either. Just place the pieces of the broken cup together and watch the microorganisms get to work by fixing itself. A little bit far fetched at the moment, but so was the idea of sending mails electronically, right?

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