Additive Manufacturing Strategies

NASA Soon Able to 3D Print Trees

ST Medical Devices

Share this Article

3D bioprinting has been all over the news lately. From 3D printed liver tissue, to 3D printed hip implants, the technology is progressing in a exponential fashion. NASA is even trying to get involved in the revolution.

wood-1-ladyLynn Rothschild, and her Ph.D. student Diana Gentry are working on something which could prove to be extremely useful in space, 3D printed trees. Both researchers are from Stanford University, and have biology backgrounds. Rothschild has been a major influencing figure in helping to  bring synthetic biology to NASA. Together, they are looking to use a method of 3D bioprinting to culture cells which will excrete non-living material. An example of this is wood, or even meat. Rothschild and Gentry are specifically working with NASA to figure out how to generate wood in space.

Last fall, the researchers received $100,000 in funding from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concept Program, and if all goes as planned, they hope to have a proof of concept by late this year. So how exactly will their 3D bioprinting process work? Basically the printer will spit out layers of living cells in a specific pattern. The cells will be extruded from the printer, in a gel solution, onto a growth plate of sorts. The cells then are signaled chemically to excrete a specific material. In this case it is wood.  The product of the print would be no different than a freshly cut down tree.  Rothschild explained the process a little bit further,

“Cells produce an enormous array of products on the Earth, everything from wool to silk to rubber to cellulose, you name it, not to mention meat and plant products and the things that we eat. Many of these things are excreted. So you’re not going to take a cow or a sheep or a probably not a silk worm or a tree to Mars. But you might want to have a very fine veneer of either silk or wood. So instead of taking the whole organism and trying to make something, why couldn’t you do this all in a very precise way – which actually may be a better way to do it on Earth as well – so that you’re printing an array of cells that then can secrete or produce these products?”

The benefits of this technology to NASA would be that astronauts would not need to bring heavy, large pieces of wood up to space. They could bring, much lighter, smaller materials up there, and then print out the cells, tree-1which will excrete the wood they need for whatever projects is being worked on.

The technology would certainly be valuable as well here on Earth. The positive impacts to the environment and nature would be staggering. Imagine being able to print out your own steak, saving millions of animals annually from butchering, or print out your own 2X4’s at the hardware store instead of cutting down a tree.

The methods that are being researched by Rothschild and Gentry could also eventually lead to new composite materials such as carbon fiber reinforced wood, or wood that conducts electricity. There are obstacles to get past before such a technology will be viable, but these researchers, as well as many others around the globe, are well on their way to advancing many new types of 3D bioprinting.

Discuss this research with other 3D printing enthusiasts here:  https://3dprintboard.com/showthread.php?1699-NASA-Close-to-Being-Able-to-3D-Print-Trees

Share this Article


Recent News

Kornit Digital Buys Tesoma, Expanding Digital Textile Production

Customized Vehicles, On-Site Medical 3D Printing, and Green Lasers—All at TIPE 2022



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing People: A Dialogue Beyond Industry at TIPE 2022

Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP) has pulled off another virtual event show coup. After an immensely successful inaugural event in 2021, the non-profit has hosted an even bigger 2022 event. And...

3D Printing Webinar and Event Roundup: January 16, 2022

We’re back in business this week with plenty of webinars and events, both virtual and in-person, starting with the second edition of the all-female-speaker TIPE 3D Printing conference. There are...

Women in 3D Printing’s Posts Agenda for TIPE Conference and Virtual Career Fair

This January 18-20, Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP) is back for the second time in a row with its TIPE 3D Printing Conference and Virtual Career Fair. Like its inaugural...

Ford and Czinger to Give Automotive 3D Printing Keynotes at AMUG 2022

As the 2022 AMUG Conference approaches, the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) has announced its keynote speakers. Headlining the event, set to take place in Chicago, Illinois from April 3-7, are Kevin...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.