Currently many complex, biologically-derived materials have extremely useful properties (think wood or silk), but are unsuitable for space-related applications due to production, manufacturing, or processing limitations.
Cells in nature are already highly specialized for making complex biological materials on a micro scale. Researchers envision combining these strengths with the recently emergent technologies of synthetic biology and additive manufacturing to create 3D-structured arrays of cells that are bioengineered to secrete different materials in a specified three-dimensional pattern.
According to the NIAC website:
Imagine being able to print anything from tools and composite building materials to food and human tissues. Imagine being on Mars with the ability to replace any broken part, whether it’s a part of your spacesuit, your habitat, or your own body. We propose a technique that would allow just that.
By printing 3D arrays of cells engineered to secrete the necessary materials, the abundant in situ resources of atmosphere and regolith become organic, inorganic, or organic-inorganic composite materials.
Such materials include novel, biologically derived materials not previously possible to fabricate.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!