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You Can Now Build Your Own Printer That Prints Living Cells

You might not be able to print your boarding pass, but your new printer can create life on a petri dish.

At this point, the TED talk of Wake Forest University researcher Anthony Atala 3-D-printing a dummy, human kidney on stage is the stuff of nerd mythology. But well-endowed labs and corporations (like Organovo) aren’t the only curious minds pursuing the generation of life through 3-D printing: turns out, all you really need is some old CD drives and ink jet printer cartridges.

Last month, a group of biohackers from the community lab BioCurious in Sunnyvale, California released a nine-step guide to creating your own bioprinter by using bits of old electronics that many people would have lying around the house.

Pouring a liquid culture full of E. coli cells into an empty ink jet cartridge, the crew of biohackers is able to print live cells into a petri dish. "We still need to push it a little further in terms of what kind of cells we can print with it," says one of the creators in the video above.

Their next goal is to print yeast and plant cells. So while the next Frankenstein won’t be 3-D-printed at someone’s home lab any time soon, perhaps the next big, biotech company will be spawned there.