Friday Squid Blogging: Biodegradable Thermoplastic Inspired by Squid Teeth
There’s a new 3D-printable biodegradable thermoplastic:
Pennsylvania State University researchers have synthesized a biodegradable thermoplastic that can be used for molding, extrusion, 3D printing, as an adhesive, or a coating using structural proteins from the ring teeth on squid tentacles.
The researchers took genes from a squid and put it into E. coli bacteria. “You can insert genes into this organism and while it produces its own genes, [it] produces this extra protein,” Demirel explains. He compares the process to making wine or beer, except that instead of the fermentation process producing alcohol, it produces more of the synthesized squid protein.
They began producing the material in a 1-liter tank, but by now have started using a 300-liter tank and can make 30-40 grams a day. In addition, they’ve made several changes to make the production process cheaper, whittling the cost down from $50 per gram to $100 per kilogram. Demirel says they are looking at using algae instead of bacteria to cut down costs further.
As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.