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Life on Mars: Houses of the future could be printed out of “living” ink

Life on Mars – in houses made of “living” ink? (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Researchers have long been working on the development of living materials, especially for medical purposes. Up to now, however, it has been difficult to fit the corresponding substances into the desired 3D structures. Now a team of scientists from Harvard University and Harvard Medical School have succeeded in developing a kind of “living” ink that can be used to print living materials.

Coli bacteria produce living nanofibers

In addition a coli bacterium was genetically modified to produce living nanofibers. These fibers were then bundled and supplemented with other ingredients, so that an ink that can be used in conventional 3D printers was created from living materials, as reported by phys.org. In addition, other microbes have been modified in such a way that they also produce living nanofibers. These were then also added to the ink. The researchers used it to print 3D objects with living components inside.

At first it was a material which, when stimulated by various chemicals, secreted an anti-cancer drug. Another material printed in this way was used to filter the pollutant bisphenol A from the environment – in this case without the addition of chemicals.

Self-repairing houses on Mars?

The “living” ink developed by the researchers but should also be suitable for other purposes. This could include building houses on Mars or the moon. In this way, the microbes could be made to reproduce themselves, so the ink could make itself. The complex production of building material on other celestial bodies would thus be omitted. Possible 3D printed houses built with the ink should also be able to repair themselves.

At least one major problem applies but still to solve it before the ink could be used on Mars or the moon. It is not yet clear how the ink can be produced on a large scale. Accordingly, it could take a while before houses are made from “living” ink.

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