On Wednesday I attended the demonstration of a first proof of concept for a mycelium 3D printer by Darya Warner and Puneet Kishor. The idea here is that you can print a substrate that mycelium likes to grow on into any 3D form you desire, which allows for more intricate shapes than can be achieved with moulding. The inoculation with mycelium can happen either during the printing stage, which means the entire printer set-up has to be sterile. Or the substrate can be inoculated after the structure is fully printed, which means only the substrate and the syringe pump have to be sterile.
The substrate that you see printed in the video below is a mixture of coffee grounds, flour, and water – a combination we know to work very well for mycelium.
This is an open source project, which means the documentation is available in its entirety.
Even though Darya and Puneet spoke of a first prototype, the printer really isn’t anywhere near prototype level. The biggest issue seems to be the viscosity of the substrate itself, which on the one hand has to be squirtable through a syringe and on the other hand should maintain a 3D structure once on the printer plate. It’s a great proof of concept though and I’m excited to see, how far they can push this project.