Today pig bladder has various applications in medicine or in cuisines, but historically, the pig bladder has many applications in sports. Based on its properties of being light and stretchable, inventors used them to produce rugby balls and footballs.
Today, inspired by the earliest footballs made from pigs' bladders, experimental artist John O'Shea has come up with a new concept. As part of Manchester's Abandon Normal Devices arts festival, John O'Shea brought his Pigs Bladder Football, the world's first bio-engineered football.
"The origins of football are multiple," he says, using the term the rest of the world uses for the game Americans call soccer. "I'm not convinced that a global monoculture is the best or most interesting way football can develop. The fully synthetic football is a 30-year blip in history."
Twelve months of laboratory work in collaboration with the University of Liverpool, funded by the Wellcome Trust, has yielded proof of concept balls. Smaller than the standard size-five balls FIFA uses, the proof of concept models are made from a 3D-printed organic polymer and show the first signs of cell growth onto the scaffold structure.
The process, greatly simplified, involves harvesting the cells, which O'Shea collected from bladders taken from recently slaughtered pigs, and culturing stem cells. O'Shea then designed a ball-shaped "scaffold" or matrix on which the cells would grow, then printed that matrix on a Makerbot Cupcake 3D printer.
John O'Shea's work was funded through the Wellcome Trust's artist in residence program. But again, do people like the idea that these cells were grown from the animal? Does he get ethical and moral questions? For O'Shea, this project is more about an art work - to re-invent football. "When we consider that footballs are now completely synthetic, this organic origin fascinated me, and I wanted to recreate it."
Read here in detail "How to bio-engineer a football" by John O'Shea.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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