Controlling Microorganisms to Fabricate Products

Controlling Microorganisms to Fabricate Products


Designers and scientists in California are exploring the idea of using microorganisms to create consumer products. This can be thought of as a natural way of 3D printing. E. coli bacteria are being studied to ‘re-program’ them and build the product. This idea has tons of potential and in my opinion should have been looked into much earlier.

“Thinkers at IDEO are working with scientists to find a way to have E. coli bacteria form objects–like a coffee cup–when exposed to light. It’s nature’s version of 3-D printing.”

The E. coli bacteria would optimally be genetically modified to perform a response of building a hard outer shell (for example) when a certain input is exhibited such as light sensitivity. They would like to create the hard shell out of cellulose or chitin, both natural materials found in plants or animals.

This bacteria that would create the hard shell, lets say for a cup, could also be engineered to make probiotics, which would be in the shell of the cup, and therefore, in the liquid the cup is holding, allowing the user to receive the associated benefits of probiotics.

This whole idea is, however, still in theory, but it also works in theory.

Do you think that this concept is taken too far, creating some sort of ‘super-bacteria’ or that it opens an entirely new field of possibilities?

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