The recent boom in 3D printing has made what once seemed amazing – printing an exact replica of this doll’s head, for example – actually quite commonplace. Trust biologists to take things a step further. Researchers scanned the doll’s face (top left), then created a computer map of her features. Next, the fun part – using their map as a guide, they printed a special functional living ink, or Flink over the top (shown in lighter blue). The Flink has an unusual ingredient – A. xylinumwas bacteria which produce bacterial cellulose, commonly used in human skin transplants. After washing away the bacteria, the doll has new artificial skin – a process that could be tweaked for human patients. Moulding bacterial cellulose to different 3D shapes has massive implications for many other human surgeries, while Flinks with other living ingredients are already being sent to the printers.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.