Reflection or the project¶
During a 3 months period we have investigated the possibility of bioprinting bacterial cellulose and how this process could be used to tackle the root of the problem with today’s supply chain in fashion, the assembly type of manufacturing.
We have investigated two main roadmaps on how to work with the bacterial cellulose; as living cells and purified “dead” material even though we haven’t been fully successful with the living-ink we still learned enough that we are able to conclude that the purified roadmap is the most practical and efficient method for our application.
Furthermore, we tested different culture media for growing BC and concluded that green tea and sucrose showed the best yield. We have experimented with low-cost DIY methods and recipes for bioprinting BC in a gelatin support bath. This has included a simplified purification process and ink/ support bath recipes using simple tools to realize. We have also presented how we can use a low-cost desktop printer for the printing process and provided instructions for building a DIY centrifuge machine necessary for the process.
So, what promises does this method hold?
introduction video for the project
The traditional supply chain in fashion from seed to finish product is a slow process (2-3 years) that requires an intricate and opaque web of suppliers that can only be profitable in an unsustainable and unfair world. This project suggests a new method that drastically reduces production time and almost completely excludes outsourced suppliers.
It is not only the simplified production model that is promising with this project. From a design perspective, the ability to design the garment from microscopic structures to finished shapes opens endless possibilities of different combinations of colors, materials, and geometries in the same garments, a process more like knitwear than cut and sew, a promising method to integrate mass customization in a cost-effective a sustainable way.
What it the main challenge for this project?
design perspective We still need to investigate how we further could improve and diversify the hand feel of the material by improving geometry and post-treatments. Furthermore, more research into the curing/ drying process is required (discussed in Chapter 05).
Business angle The hardware cost is of course a challenge cheapest robotic arms start from 25.000 and more types of equipment like dryers, centrifuges, etc would also be required. Without having studied economics, it seems that it should be possible to mitigate the high hardware cost with low material and labor costs.
Sustainable angle To grow the BC film I have used raw materials from the supermarket, this is of course not an ideal method for scaling the production however there is a lot of available research on growing BC film from food waste, it is easy to envision collaborations with local restaurants and supermarkets. Another environmental concern is, of course, the chemicals required in the purification process and electricity used for the machine even though they most likely have a neglectable environmental impact compared to traditional garment manufacturing it is still worth analyzing further.
Besides all the above-mentioned challenges possible the biggest task would be (as always) people and their habits. For designers how to convince them to completely change their design process? and for customers will they be willing to wear something constructed in such a completely new way?
Traditions are the worst
story telling script
robot plugin GH
In order to be able to easily track the progress of all the different research areas in my project I created a gant chart using teamGant .
Up until the midterm (4 top rows) I was focusing on material exploration as well as some experiments with printing, mainly using a handheld syringe connected to the compressor. After the midterm, I was focusing on refining the earlier experiments and further developing the samples using the bioprinter, perfecting the machine settings and print speed etc. Green bars indicate practical labwork and blue research.
|1x||wood||≈ 60 €||in IAAC||80mm boards|
|1x||12V motor||≈ 15 €||in IAAC||see 3D model|
|4x||8M screw bolt/nut/washer||≈ 1 €||in IAAC||8M|
|4x||4M screw bolt/nut/washer||1 €||in IAAC||4M|
|1x||rubber ring||0.50 €||in IAAC||x|
|1x||magnetic stirrer||≈ 250 €||in IAAC||x|
|1x||Sodium alginate||≈ 20 €||in IAAC||x|
|4x||Calcium chloride||≈ 20 €||in IAAC||x|
|4x||Mica powder||≈ 10 €||in IAAC||x|
|1x||Gelatin||≈ 25 €||in IAAC||x|
|4x||15 ml centrifuge tubes||x||pidiscat||x|
|1x||0.005 scale||≈ 20 €||store||x|
|1x||15 ml precision pipette||≈ 7 €||pidiscat||x|
|1x||sodium hydroxide||≈ 15 €||Quimics Dalmau||x|
|1x||aqueous sodium hypochlorite||≈ 5 €||lidl||any houshold bleach|
|4x||plastic box||≈ 10 €||Servei Estacio||7x7x3 cm|
|100x||21g needle||≈ 8 €||pidiscat||x|
|1x||syringe||≈ 4 €||in IAAC||x|
|1x||compressor||≈ ?||in IAAC||x|
|1x||Anycubic kossel delta printer||≈ 250 €||in IAAC||modifield for bioprinting|