Artist Neri Oxman and her 3D printed gut inspired artwork

World's first 3D printed photosynthetic wearable revealed

A 3D printed wearable artwork inspired by human digestive system capable of photosynthesis has been revealed by an Israeli artist.

Architect Neri Oxman revealed the artefact during her TED talk in Vancouver saying it was the world's first 3D printed wearable capable of converting daylight into energy.

The photosynthetic ability, however, is not due to any sophisticated technology, but due to the presence of photosynthetic microorganisms swimming inside the gut-resembling channels of the piece which Oxman calls Mushtari.

“This is the first time that 3D printing technology has been used to produce a photosynthetic wearable piece with hollow internal channels designed to house microorganisms,” Oxman said.

“Mushtari hosts synthetic microorganisms – a co-culture of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and E. coli bacteria – that can fluorescence bright colours in darkness and produce sugar or biofuels when exposed to the sun.”

The guts of Mushtari, some 58 meters in length and about 1 to 2.5mm in diameter, were 3D printed by American firm Stratasys using triple-jetting technology that allows changing transparency of the channels from clear to opaque.

“This enabled varying levels of transparency and translucency to be designed into surface areas where photosynthesis was desired,” Oxman said. “Channels and pockets were implemented to enhance the flow and functionality of the cells – such mechanical and optical property gradation can only be achieved using multi-material 3D printing with high spatial resolution for manufacturing.”

Stratasys’s creative director Naomi Kaempder said the project forced the firm to push the limits of technological development.

“We have a fertile research collaboration with Professor Neri Oxman, one that has great reciprocal benefits as we push each other to the edges of expression and technological capability. 3D printing Mushtari is a wonderful example of how far this collaboration can bring us,” Kaempder said.


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