Sep.25, 2012

Modern Meadow, a company developing and 3D bioprinting meat and leather products directly from real animal cells received a six-figure seed investment from PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel's Breakout Labs.

However research shows that most consumers are reluctant to try cultured meats, and the regulatory approval process could take another 10 years. Recently Modern Meadow disclosed their first goal: it is not on meat, but on lab-grown leather products.

Modern Meadow predicts that within five years a full-scale leather production facility will be set up and handbags, belts, leather shoes, jackets made of lab-grown leather will be sold in large department stores.

Meanwhile the lab will still work on cultivating meat with 3D bioprinting technology. The process involves taking cells from donor animals and isolating and modifying the cells, multiplying the cells in a bioreactor. Centrifuge the products to create aggregated spheres of cells and put the cell aggregates together and allow them to fuse together using bioassembly including 3D bioprinting technology. The fused cells will be put in a bioreactor so they can mature. After several weeks skin tissue turns to hide. Muscle and fat tissue is harvested for food.

Modern Meadow says this process is still under development, but it is very environmentally and animal friendly. For example, 3D printed animal products could decrease the environmental effects and alleviate animal rights in the future. also, most leather produced around the world is chrome-tanned. All wastes containing chromium are considered hazardous but the new leather tanning process uses much less toxic chemicals.

Modern Meadow intended to create lifelike lab-grown leather which are superior to traditional leather. At the moment it is producing small samples of lab-grown calfskin with simple patterns.

"By the end of the year, I think we'll be able to produce a two centimeter by two centimeter sample of leather that's made without killing an animal." said Andras Forgacs, the CEO of Modern Meadow.

According to fastcoexist, the company's leather will be fairly expensive --somewhere between the high-end leather that costs $1,000 per square meter and the leather that costs $4 per square foot. "The goal is to introduce the material initially at the higher end of spectrum as something that's novel," explains Forgacs. But once production really scales up, the leather will become affordable.

Aside from the environmental and ethical benefits, there are also very large economic incentives to their work. Modern Meadow's meat and leather would be competing for a share of a combined $2.5 trillion market, Forgacs says.


Posted in 3D Printing Technology




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