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A colourful, sustainable resolution for 3D printing (w/video)

Oct 07, 2021 (Nanowerk News) Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed seaweed-based inks and supplies for creating colourful 2-D and 3-D shapes and fashions. The innovation is named ArtSea Inks and Materials. The set of vivid inks—suppose a futuristic improve from yesteryear’s eight-pack of Crayola crayons—was developed utilizing seaweed options bolstered with pigments that give it a lustrous end. ArtSea Inks and Materials don’t require excessive warmth or unsustainable fossil fuel-laden plastic supplies to provide non-toxic, sturdy constructions.

From biodetection to artwork and training…and past

The roots of ArtSea Inks and Materials started with biodetection in thoughts—particularly, fast detection and characterization of organic threats—utilizing a mix of strengths in 3-D printing, materials design, tissue engineering, and host response. “We’ve matched this expertise with the concept of 3-D printing so we could, for example, develop a novel 3-D printed human tissue array to study how harmful microbial pathogens can affect the tissue,” mentioned Anne Arnold, the researcher who led improvement of ArtSea Inks and Materials. An instance of such a pathogen is Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax and influenza. Beyond biodetection, the crew quickly found that ArtSea Inks and Materials could possibly be used for a wider array of functions, equivalent to creating artwork, offering fashions for science, know-how, engineering and arithmetic use, or creating 3-D printed medical fashions. “We’ve discovered it’s a very versatile innovation that reaches beyond biodetection,” mentioned Sara Hunt, PNNL commercialization supervisor. “The technology can be extended to larger medical corporations, schools, even the ‘DIYers’ who enjoy making their own creations.” ArtSea Ink and Materials, developed utilizing a PNNL inside funding program that’s designed to foster innovation and creativity, had been lately featured in Nature after findings had been printed within the journal ACS Omega (“Pearlescent Mica-Doped Alginate as a Stable, Vibrant Medium for Two-Dimensional and Three-Dimensional Art”).

Alginate and mica—the key sauce

ArtSea Inks and Materials are known as “bioinks” as a result of they’re comprised of alginate, a low-cost, extensively accessible, and non-toxic sodium salt extracted from brown seaweed. The materials types a steady gel with out the necessity for extreme warmth. To create the bioink, the scientists infuse the pigments, referred to as mica colorants, into the algal extract—imparting vivid colours. The algal/mica mixture is dissolved in water after which mixed with an answer of calcium chloride. The positively charged calcium ions meld with negatively charged parts of assorted polymer strands, forming a viscous tunable “gum” that gives a stability of stiffness and workability to type steady 3-D constructions. The resolution is then extruded from a syringe-like applicator to type colourful, finely detailed 2-D and 3-D constructions. It eliminates the necessity for complicated software program or {hardware} upkeep of a 3-D printer. ArtSea Inks and Materials are extruded from syringe-like applicators to type colourful 2-D and 3-D constructions. (Image: Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) The bioinks additionally might be formulated to any shade, together with metallic and pearlescent colours, in addition to glow-in-the-dark inks. ArtSea Inks and Materials can be utilized to create representations of organic supplies and fashions in addition to incorporate mammalian and bacterial cells into the bioink. The outcomes, for instance, may present constructions that illuminate the lantern of a firefly’s stomach area for finding out the inner workings of that species or depict totally different areas in a human mind for anatomy classes in highschool science lessons.

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