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Living Mushtari – 3d-printed and generatively grown microbial factory

Developed at the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter group by William Patrick, Sunanda Sharma, Steven Keating and directed by Neri Oxman, Living Mushtari is a new development of Wanderers project released last year with focus on Mushtari, a 3D printed wearable with 58 meters of internal fluid channels designed to function as a wearable microbial factory.

How can we design relationships between the most primitive and the most sophisticated life forms? Can we design wearables embedded with synthetic microorganisms that can enhance and augment biological functionality? Can we design wearables that generate consumable energy while being exposed to the sun?

The wearable was designed using generative growth algorithms that inform the overall geometry, the local mesh geometry as well as variations in material property by altering the relative strength of relaxation, attraction and repulsion between mesh vertices. For Mushtari, the initial geometry and parameters created a single long channel that grew over numerous iterations into a wearable with 58 meters of inner channels varying in diameter from 1 mm to 2.5 cm. Transparency was graded regionally within the design to create areas of transparency, where cyanobacteria (photosynthetic cyanobacteria and E. coli) could receive light and photosynthesize.

Finally, Mushtari was 3D printed using the Connex3, a multimaterial 3D printer developed by Stratasys. Printing internal channels required Mediated Matter group to work with Stratasys to develop an experimental liquid-based support that could be dispensed into the channels during printing and easily cleared afterwards.

Project Page | Mediated Matter Group