University of Oxford chemists custom-built a 3D printer that fabricates "synthetic tissue," or rather structures with tissue-like functions. Eventually, the technology could be used to crank out replacement tissue that could replace damaged human tissue or be used in new drug delivery systems. The material consist of a network of water droplets encapsulated in lipids, or fat molecules.
"The droplets… form pathways through the network that mimic nerves and are able to transmit electrical signals from one side of a network to the other," says Oxford University chemistry professor Hagan Bayley.
Amazingly, the material can be chemically "programmed" to fold into various shapes as water is transferred around in the network. (Video above.)
"A Tissue-like Printed Material" (Science)
As part of Institute for the Future's research project on what we're calling "The Coming Age of Networked Matter," we've looked at progress around programmable materials that can morph and self-assemble. MIT professor and TED fellow Skylar Tibbits is pushing on this idea with what he dubbed "4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time," meaning that the printed objects change shape over a certain period. (Thanks, Jake Dunagan!)
My kids and I are getting a 3D printer for Christmas, and even though its not a MakerBot, this new book by MakerBot co-founder Bre Pettis is very useful for anyone getting started with 3D printing. (Disclosure: I'm editor-in-chief of MAKE which published this book)
It’s handy when you need a replacement for something lost, broken, or no longer made—like a knob on your stove. You can make things instead of buying them, or solve problems with inventions of your own. The possibilities are endless, and MakerBot is the fun, affordable, and inspiring way to go. Get started with your own little factory today!
• Set up your MakerBot Replicator 2 and understand how it works
• Learn the basics and print 10 useful objects right away
• Make objects with sturdy yet biodegradable PLA
• Get examples of real-world problem solving, from ceiling hooks to hermit crab shells
• Choose from thousands of free designs on Thingiverse.com—and share your own
• Repurpose disposable products by making them part of your design
• Design your own 3D objects, using SketchUp, Autodesk 123D, OpenSCAD, and other tools
• Use 3D scanning technology to replicate real objects around you
In a very cool video from Chemical and Engineering News, Art Olson of the Scripps Research Institute explains how chemists in his lab can predict how well the drugs they develop will work.
Olson's lab prints 3D models of molecular structures, both targets—like the HIV protease enzyme in the video—and the drugs they've made to bond to those targets. The models are rigged up so that when Olson holds them in front of a webcam, they instantly interact with chemical analysis software his team has built. The result is a system that allows researchers to see, physically, how well the drugs fit their targets, and simultaneously test how well the two are likely to bond on a chemical level.
Thanks, Aaron Rowe!