Designer Biohacking: At the Intersection of Building Food and Optimizing Health

An Edible Growth prototype. Image credit: Chloé Rutzerveld

What happens when a highly skilled designer focuses on food? In the case of Chloe Rutzerveld, who is based in the Netherlands, she set up a food concept and design business that focuses on everything from designer biohacking of food to 3D-printed food concepts. Her Edible Growth project focuses on combining aspects of design, science and technology to make our food more efficient, healthy and sustainable.

According to Munchies: “Using layers of edible plants, seeds, spores, and other microorganisms, Edible Growth creates intricate small meals that combine living mushrooms and greens with the mechanization of the most industrialized foods. In a nutshell, the Edible Growth products are composed of a nutritious base, or ‘edible matrix,’ of nuts, fruits, agar, and protein (which can even come from insects) that are extruded by a 3D printer. That matrix becomes the soil, more or less, for sprouting seeds, yeasts, beneficial bacteria, and mushroom spores to grow in over the course of five days. Finally, there’s a crust layer composed of carbohydrates and more protein, to hold everything else like a little superfood pastry.�

Here, you can see some of these concepts. The emerging field of food-focused “designer biohacking� also runs down to more basic, structural engineering of food and beverages, though. For example, The Odin is a company focused on “consumer genetic design� that sells kits for making green, fluorescent beer. The beer is based on a protein found in jellyfish that can be engineered into yeast. Customers execute this conversion themselves and the yeast can also be used to hack and morph champagne.

According to The Odin:

“Our goal with this kit is to begin to integrate synthetic biology and genetic design into people’s everyday life. We see a future in which people are genetically designing the plants they use in their garden, eating yogurt that contains a custom bacterial strain they modified or even someday brewing using an engineered yeast strain. Yeast is an integral part of our lives. It can used be used for brewing, baking, fermentation or as a research tool. Genetically Engineering yeast in your home seems like Science Fiction but is actually now reality. Using our kit you can make your yeast fluoresce and glow by inserting a gene from a jellyfish, the Green Flourescent Protein(GFP). This kit comes with everything you need to engineer a Mead Yeast we provide or your own favorite yeast that you provide.�

At the intersection of design and fanciful food concepts, 3D printing is also giving rise to many new culinary approaches. Take a look at the colorful, geometrically complex sugar-based shapes and concepts seen here, which make your local diner’s sugar cubes look downright unimaginative. Many such concepts have been shown at the 3D Food Printing Conference in Venlo, the Netherlands.  Chefs have created five-course 3D-printed meals, and scientists have created 3D-printed beef.

Meanwhile, home food reactors that make food using only electricity, carbon dioxide and organisms from the air we breathe are headed our way. Researchers from Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have successfully produced single cell protein in the lab using only water, electricity, carbon dioxide and small organisms obtained from the environment. The end result is a breakthrough that, if commercialized, could result in solar powered home food reactors that produce protein and carb-packed food. The process could also be leveraged to produce food for livestock, from, essentially, nothing.

The industrial design and 3D printing communities may also want to pay attention to personalized food fabrication. It is an emerging field that has great promise. Dr. Amy Logan, a team leader for dairy science at The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), has just launched a three-year study into the personalized fabrication of smart food systems. Logan’s research team will focus on instantly available diagnostics and how 3D printing or similar technologies can fabricate genetically targeted food to correct deficiencies. The diagnostics may leverage, of all things, human sweat.

Hacking the basic building blocks of food is inevitably going to intersect with hacking our bodies for more optimal health outcomes. “I think the future of food will go in multiple directions,� Chloe Rutzerveld has said. “It’ll all be very high tech and monitor the body.�

Designer Uses ZMorph 2.0 SX Multitool 3D Printer to Develop Multifunctional Walker Prototype

zmorph-logoWe’ve written about biomedical engineer and 3D designer Eliza Wrobel before, when she used 3D printer manufacturer ZMorph‘s 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer a few months ago to create this really cool revolving 3D printed bookshelf, just months after the printer itself had been announced. Before that, Wrobel put the ZMorph 2.0 S Hybrid printer through its paces by making an orthosis for a man suffering from tetraplegia. Now she’s back again with an ingenious and very helpful prototype: a multifunctional walker, created using the 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer.

zmorph-multifunctional-walker-with-printerWhen a person struggles with limb disabilities or old age, many times they will use a walker to help them move around their homes more easily, and even for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, walkers aren’t always much help when it comes to outdoor activities on uneven surfaces, or when you need to be able to transport something. There aren’t always inexpensive medical solutions that can help in these situations, but with new tools and machines being developed every day, and people like Wrobel around who want to help, this can change. Wrobel wanted to help people with disabilities stay active, and decided to take another look at the often-used walker design, to see if she could make it more functional.

multifunctional-walker-usesWrobel’s multifunctional prototype walker still has the basic functionalities of a regular walker, including a regulated height, but with some helpful additions, like a fitted drink cup holder and easy-to-use hand brakes near the top. It also has a few switchable add-on functions, like a baby seat if someone wants to take their grandchild for a stroll, which can also be switched out for a small shopping basket.

Wrobel said, “Using ZMorph 2.0 SX I was able to materialize and prove my idea for a multifunctional walker that could help disabled people in performing every day tasks.”

The prototype walker has over 100 parts, and was built using straps, screws, a handmade Batman cushion (my favorite part!), wire, and 3D printed elements. Most were printed with different types of plastic filament: silver ABS was used for the frame, because it’s easy to clean the support materials off of the tubing, and the more durable parts of the walker were made with yellow and black PLA parts. Wrobel used black rubber-like Flex filament to create the brakes, wheels, and arm pads at the top.

closeup-multifunctional-walkerThis prototype model was designed using the ZMorph 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer and ZMorph’s multitool digital fabrication Voxelizer software, both of which 3DPrint.com had the chance to see in action at the CES 2017 show in January. The design model was created in 1:2 scale in order to prove that the idea of a multifunctional walker is, in fact, feasible, and could one day be mass produced.

zmorph-walker-3d-printed-wheelThe prototype is pretty fragile though, so it can really only be used as a showcase model or proof of concept, to be rolled out during business and investor meetings, trade shows, and design meetings. The walker model would need some more work to make it into a functional, test-ready prototype, but luckily, this work could be completed and 3D printed using the ZMorph 2.0 SX. This 3D printer is an advanced rapid prototyping device, with interchangeable toolheads enabling tasks like laser engraving, CNC milling and cutting, thick paste extruding, and one- and two-material 3D printing. In addition, it supports a variety of printing materials, so the designer can pick materials for prototypes that have similar properties to those that will be used for the final product.

According to ZMorph, the prototype multifunctional walker is also “a fine example of how 3D printing can be used to reinvent and innovate in product development. Relatively low costs and short production time give additional advantage especially to young creative minds wanting to help the ones in need.”

Discuss in the ZMorph forum at 3DPB.com.

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Designer Phillippe Malouin Unveils 3D Printed Bowl on the Homeware Design Shop Othr

Last month, during New York City’s widely celebrated and prestigious Design Week, a new collaboration was formed to bring emerging technologies and an artistic touch to the realm of homeware products. The new design collective, called Othr, was founded by designers Joe Doucet, Dean Di Simone, and Evan Clabots, all of whom have joined forces to create this creative hub for unique ideas and original, artistically-driven product design. Recently, Othr added their newest design, a 3D printed bowl created by Canadian designer Phillippe Malouin, his second design featured on their curated product line.

connection-bowl-philippe-malouin-other-3d-printed_dezeen_2The bowl design, which Malouin has called the Connection Bowl, manages to provide both a simplistic hemispherical bowl shape and a unique balance-inducing mechanism attached to the base. These two flat vertical panels attached to the base of the bowl act to stabilize the bowl and provide a handle. The bowl is available in either 3D printed steel or porcelain, both of which come with a matte black metallic finish. Malouin seems to have envisioned a bowl that appears traditional at first glance, but upon a further look proves itself to be much more intricately designed and functional than first impressions might show.

“We focused on those types of connections, which are often invisible to the untrained eye,” said Malouin. ”But when you stop and focus on the object and really look at it, you find out how interesting and intricately made it actually is.”

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The Connection Bowl can either be purchased for $245 in steel or $55 in porcelain, both of which are available on the Othr website. Malouin’s design is currently being shipped throughout the United States and Canada, and will soon be made available to those located outside of North America. The numbered series—like all other Othr products—are 3D printed on-demand as soon as they are ordered. The 3D printed steel takes approximately two to three weeks to produce and ship, while the 3D printed porcelain bowl ranges from four to five weeks.

connection-bowl-philippe-malouin-other-3d-printed_dezeen_5The design of the Connection Bowl follows suit with the first design Malouin featured on Othr, a small steel container called the Connection Vessel. In fact, Othr has three principles that they require their products to follow, all of which are covered by Malouin’s Connection Bowl. Each Othr product must be useful, aesthetic, and unique all at once, which has led to a product line that is as fit for your kitchen table as it is a museum exhibit. Othr plans to release a new product on their website every two weeks, and also features an array of work from other renowned designers, including Todd Bracher, Michael Sodeau, and the design collective Everything Elevated, just to name a few.

Malouin, who is currently based out of England, graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven back in 2009. Currently positioned as the director of architecture and interiors design for the firm Post-Office, Malouin has led the way on a wide-range of design projects, including the UK headquarters for the skincare brand Aesop. At Post-Office, Malouin seems to use the same regimen as he has with his Connection Bowl design, focusing primarily on simplicity and elegance. By fusing together traditional design with the process of 3D printing, the designer has shown that both vintage design and contemporary technologies can not only co-exist, they can also create products that manage to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

[Source: Dezeen]