The project Phyto Printing is a production process which uses a light projection to control the growth of phytoplankton, to create high-resolution prints and living materials that breathe 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 enabling 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 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 microalgae 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 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.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.