A 3D-printed material able to control live, embedded bacteria could lead to a new generation of customizable biomedical tools.
The printing method created by the team from MIT and Harvard involves using two common resins, including one resin meant to be used as a temporary support structure. Taking advantage of the absorbent nature of the support resin, the team filled it with specific chemicals after printing and then coated the entire structure in a hydrogel embedded with engineered E.coli. The chemicals will cause the bacteria to fluoresce in different colors and patterns that can be controlled by altering the chemicals, resin structure and microbes within the printed object.
According to study co-lead author Rachel Soo Hoo Smith, “We can define very specific shapes and distributions of the hybrid living materials and the biosynthesized products, whether they be colors or therapeutic agents, within the printed shapes.”