Plass is a fictitious company that manufactures 3D printed agar-based biodegradable plastic with embedded bacteria, Bio-Ink. After a planned amount of time, the material starts decomposing, or the process can be accelerated should the object break, thus exposing the internal bacteria to open air. The motivation behind this concept comes from our current reality of landfills and plastic waste imports. In that sense, it is imperative that we stop producing non-degradable materials. Our responsibility towards our planet should not only come from our consumption behaviours, but actually start with our production methods.
This project comes from the consideration that in spite of our natural cycles of life and death, we tend to surround ourselves with non-animate artefacts that not only outlive us, but may also preserve its nature for eternity, thus becoming immortal.
It was the base for our initial idea: to design a material that dies.
Initially it sounded somehow controversial, however in the light of our current global production methods and excessive use of plastic, it made sense to develop a material that perished after it fulfilled its purpose.
In order to make the material “die”, we started exploring the possibility of resourcing to Quorum Sensing. This mechanism allows bacteria to emit certain signals when they are available in high density, thus replicating a similar behaviour in the culture. In other words, we could develop a material containing bacteria that at a certain stage could signal its own death. We could either manipulate the bacteria to trigger the signal after a specific amount of time, or upon change in its environment. To store the bacteria, we needed to have a host material, like a hydro-gel solution. We imagine scenario where agar we could develop an agar-based hydrogel – the bioplastic, with embedded bacteria. We started speculating on a near future scenario where 3D printing becomes the main mass-production methodology, and home printers a reality. We imagined ourselves as the inventors and brand owners of a company called Plass, that manufactures bio-inks for the industry as an effective alternative to plastic.
During the prototyping process, we made different samples of agar-based bioplastic, so we could understand its form, and degradation process. We also made samples where the real bacteria Bacillus Subtilis was inserted in the agar/hydro-gel solution.