3D printers can make all sorts of great things, but they don't do it out of thin air. First, there's the model and then there are the materials. In most cases this is some sort of thermoplastic that can be heated and squirted from the printer's head. But 3D printers don't have to be the mechanical, polymer-ejecting gadgets we're familiar with. What if all you needed was some genetically-modified bacteria and orange juice?
It'd certainly save you cash not having to constantly buy filaments, but the variety of things you could craft would certainly be limited. This hasn't stopped Ilya Levantis from working on something he calls "JuicyPrint", a 3D printer designed to use cellulose produced by bacteria.
As MAKE's Alasdair Allan reports, the bacteria responds to light and by carefully timing the pattern and frequency of exposure, you can theoretically get the little guys to pump out cellulose in a precise manner. Repeat this process layer by layer and you have an organic 3D printer.
Right now, Levantis is waiting "for some paperwork" so his team can actually make the genetic modifications, but apparently it's all "reasonably simple". Will it knock out its plastic-using competitors? Probably not, but given it can potentially run on organic waste, it could find a niche in recycling industries... or places that have a lot of orange juice on hand.