Neri Oxman’s TED Talk reveals Stratasys 3D printed wearable.
Architect and designer Neri Oxman, has revealed the world’s first wearable combining multi-material additive manufacturing and synthetic biology.
Mushtai means huge or giant in Arabic and evokes the planet Jupiter. Inspired by the human body, the piece was designed to host living organisms and manipulate their function in a groundbreaking experiment that represents a huge leap for design, materials engineering, synthetic biology, and additive manufacturing.
“This is the first time that 3D printing technology has been used to produce a photosynthetic wearable piece with hollow internal channels designed to house microorganisms,” Oxman explained. “Inspired by the human gastrointestinal tract, Mushtari is designed to host synthetic microorganisms – a co-culture of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and E. coli bacteria – that can fluoresce bright colours in darkness and produce sugar or biofuels when exposed to the sun. Such functions will in the near future augment the wearer by scanning our skins, repairing damaged tissue and sustaining our bodies, an experiment that has never been attempted before.”
Oxman’s team including her researcher Will Patrick, implemented Stratasys’ unique triple-jetting 3D printing technology to create a large fluid network within Mushtari including varying levels of transparency from opaque to clear to enable exposure to light.
According to Oxman: “Channels and pockets were implemented to enhance the flow and functionality of the cells – such mechanical and optical property gradation can only be achieved using multi-material 3D printing with high spatial resolution for manufacturing.”
A piece of Mushtari filled with luminescent liquid.
Stratasys developed a new tailor-made solution for this particular piece. Naomi Kaempfer, Creative Director Art Fashion Design at Stratasys, commented: “3D printing Mushtari is a wonderful example of how far this collaboration can bring us. The fluid channels in the wearable stretch to around 58 meters, with an inner channel diameter ranging from 1 mm to 2.5 cm, frequently turning sharply in new directions. Clearing the support material out from such a long, narrow and complex structure to create the hollow channels for living matter presented a significant challenge. Our R&D team went beyond the boundaries of our existing technology, formulating a dedicated improved support structure to allow a smooth, effective process in support of Professor Oxman’s vision.”
Mushtari is a based on a piece from Oxman’s series Wanderers: An Astrobiological Exploration, part of ‘The Sixth Element’ 3D printing design collection. With four pieces of artwork, the Wanderers series is an ongoing collaboration between Stratasys and Neri Oxman, as well as members of the Mediated Matter research group, the Laboratory of Prof. Pamela Silver at Harvard Medical School, and Christopher Bader & Dominik Kolb at Deskriptiv.
Mushtari filled with luminescent liquid.
Each of the wearables in the series is designed to contain and generate life-sustaining elements. Mushtari was designed as a single strand filled with living matter. An organ system for consuming and digesting biomass, absorbing nutrients and expelling waste, the 3D printed translucent tract was designed to support the flow of cyanobacteria engineered to convert sunlight into sucrose presenting the prospects of sustaining living organisms inside a wearable.
Neri Oxman, added: “In the end, it is clear that the incorporation of synthetic biology in 3D printed products for wearable microbiomes will enable the transition from designs that are inspired by Nature, to designs made with and by Nature, to, possibly designing Nature herself."