Phyto printing is a process in which a light projection is used to control the growth of phytoplankton to create high-resolution prints and living materials that breath and metabolise. The project’s mission is to design a phyto printer to make this process accessible to designers, artists, and makers, allowing them to explore the possibilities of this new bio fabrication process and enable them to develop a huge range of applications. The printer can operate with a variety of materials, such as textiles, ceramics, and paper. It is designed to be easily accessible to its users and adaptable to different settings. Additionally, the growth process can be observed. The centrepiece of the process is phytoplankton, a group of organisms to which cyanobacteria and micro algae belong. These phototactic living beings grow exponentially and can produce large amounts of oxygen and bind carbon dioxide.
The inspiration for the process comes from the screen printing process and is similar to it in some aspects. The construction, at the same time, is quite simple. A video projector exposes a surface with a negative black and white image. On the surface is water with nutrients and a very small amount of phytoplankton. These must be heavier than water so that they lie directly on the surface. The organisms now start to grow in the illuminated areas. After 3-7 days, the growth process is complete and the image is fully developed.
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