Biofabricate: Scientists + Artists Transform Materials, Manufacturing

This week, a group of artists, designers, and scientists will gather in New York City for the second annual Biofabricate conference.

They’ll be discussing the use of biological organisms to create new materials and transform manufacturing.

You might think a conference like this would attract only scientists, but surprisingly it is the often artists and designers in attendance who are pushing the limits of biotechnology.

I attended last year’s conference and asked Suzanne Lee, Biofabricate’s organizer, what would be different this year. Here is her preview:

“For one, we’re helping people think beyond 3-D printing with the use of living cells as substrates to build novel materials and systems,” said Lee. “For example, one of our presenting companies, BioBots, has developed a desktop bioprinter that can build three-dimensional living tissues from human cells. One hundred research institutions around the globe purchased that printer, but so did an art school. I believe that combination of scientists and artists-designers working separately and together are driving innovation in biofabrication.”

Pembient’s cultured rhino horns and elephant tusks aim to decrease illegal wildlife poaching – a $20 billion black market.

“We’ll also be looking at how engineered biology has the potential to replace animal products,” continued Lee. “Egg, milk, and meat produced in cell culture are less resource heavy and more sustainableand Pembient’s cultured rhino horns and elephant tusks aim to stop illegal poaching.”

I’m looking forward to hearing more this week about our progress in using biology to advance materials science and manufacturing. Check back for my report next week.