DIY BioPrinter lets you print with bacterium, won't be a hit this Valentine's Day

Patrik/Instructables

While you'd think that "printing" with biological materials such as cells would involve mind-boggling complex technologies, the people responsible for this Instructables project say that you don't need magic to build a bio-matter maker—you can base it around existing inkjet and 3D printing technology. And to prove it, they decided to build a printer of their own that can do just that.

The idea of being able to mass-produce artificial meat and fabricate functional entrails is both terrifying and all kinds of cool. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on what you think about the notion), the good people over at the BioPrinter Community Project are still a long way from being able to deliver bargain-bin spleens. For now, they're focusing on printing using bacteria.

After attempting to repurpose an abandoned HP DeskJet 5150 inkjet printer for use in the endeavor, the BioPrinter team eventually switched over to building its own platform. This, in turn, entailed crafting a custom X-Y platform from a couple of old CD drives, drawing inspiration from a DIY laser cutter from Hackteria.

The DIY BioPrinter is made out of components from old CD drives, one Inkshield kit, an Arduino Uno microcontroller, two SN754410NE H-Bridge motor drivers, an Arduino Prototyping shield, and a panoply of wires, machine screws, standoffs and enclosures. Grand total? $150.

This is one DIY project you might want to avoid. Printing with potentially harmful bacteria isn't something we'd recommend (for what we think are obvious reasons), so print at your own risk. And don't complain to us if your significant other spurns your bacteria-printed Valentine's Day card.

That said, if you're interested in learning more about bioprinting, check out these TED Talks on the topic.

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