While bacteria most likely won’t have their own Saturday morning cartoon any time soon, they have received quite a lot of attention over the years, not all of which has been negative. Despite the apparent bacteria-cidal mania gripping hand sanitizer addicts, the positive and negative attributes of bacteria is much more of a mixed bag. It is true that bacteria are responsible for salmonella and gonorrhea among other horrors, there are also types of bacteria that eat human sewage and produce, as a convenient byproduct, rocket fuel. This is of little consolation to someone suffering gastrointestinal discomfort, but interesting nonetheless.
If you are a fan of sourdough bread or kombucha tea, you may positively adore bacteria. However you feel about the “wee beasties” they have captured the imagination of artist Sammy Jobbins Wells who used them to produce the surface of a garment. With a feeling much like human skin, the surface the bacteria create is given form by an underlying skeleton designed using the Delaunay Triangulation, as well as being placed over 3D printed molds in order to later dry and take form. It is reminiscent of the activity that many remember from childhood of spreading a layer of glue on your hand and then peeling it off in a single sheet.
However, instead of spreading something on a surface to dry, this surface is grown using acetobacter xylinum, a strain of bacteria that consumes glucose and produces a microbial cellulose textile. This method of textile production is completely sustainable in that it consumes no energy for its production. The material itself is tensile and irregular, characteristics which interested Wells as she considered the intersection between the precision of digitally generated forms and natural biological processes.
The underlying structure, created in Grasshopper, was inspired by the forms of antique animal bone corsets in that they provide rigid structures inhibiting free movement and, especially with the added ‘skin’, modify the overall surface of the body. Well’s creations wrap the waist and pelvis area, are directed up the back and finally encase the head of the wearer. The algorithmically generated forms are produced using rapid prototyping equipment and then the cellulose is able to contract and develop over the forms creating a perfect fit.
Wells is not the first artist to work with growing textiles. The London-based designer Suzanne Lee, a senior research fellow in the School of Fashion/Textiles, has created a series of garments in which she uses textiles created from bacterial cellulose. Her ‘biocouture’ jacket was produced by millions of bacteria that were grown in bathtubs of sweet green tea. What differentiates Well’s work is her interest in the interplay of digital and biological – sometimes conceived of as being binary opposites.
Wells hails from Australia but recently moved to pursue an MA in digital media at the University of the Arts in Bremen, Germany. Let’s hear your thoughts on Wells’ work, in the 3D printed bacteria art forum thread on 3DPB.com.[Source: Cargocollective]
You May Also Like
NASA Awards Contract to Build 3D Printed Batteries in Space
I was recently playing a game of Trivial Pursuit with my parents, and a question came up that I was sure my husband would know the answer to; so, in...
Quasi-Solid-State 3D Printed Battery Features Improved Stability & Density
3D printing is continually associated with the energy industry, from wind turbines to fuel cells and a variety of different casings for batteries. Now, researchers from Singapore and China are...
3D Printing: Anisotropic Polymer Nanocomposites with Aligned BaTiO3 Nanowires
Chinese and UK researchers delve into the area of composites for use in the field of energy, releasing their findings in the recently published ‘3D printing of anisotropic polymer nanocomposites...
New Research Summary of 3D Printing Materials and Methods for Batteries and Supercapacitors
Because the technology can achieve complex shapes and structures and multifunctional material systems, a trio of researchers in Ireland – Umair Gulzar, Colm Glynn, and Colm O’Dwyer – were interested...
View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.