Team:London BioHackspace/Policy Practice


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Policy & Practice

As a product of London Biohackspace, the JuicyPrint project takes much inspiration from the hacker/maker movement in the way the project is organised and in the aims of the final product.

Ensuring easy distribution of JuicyPrint

The success of open source 3D printer projects such as RepRap is not only due to their open source nature, but also in the additional effort made to design a unit capable of being easily reproduced by whoever wishes to do so, anywhere in the world. RepRap achieves this by using a construction comprised of standard components which can be easily obtained from hardware outlets across the world and, where not possible, parts which can be produced by a pre-existing unit.

As an open source 3D printer, JuicyPrint hopes to use this model of distribution, especially because it lends itself well to the hacker/maker ideals of the team responsible for this project. The design of the physical structure of the printer and the growth medium which it uses are therefore informed by what is available from ordinary retail outlets. This creates the possibility for individuals, community biology labs, or professional researchers anywhere in the world to construct a JuicyPrint unit. The final component for a functional JuicyPrint unit is the engineered light sensitive strain of extracellular cellulose producing bacteria, which of course cannot be bought from a regular retailer. However, the biological nature of this component allows easy production from existing JuicyPrint units -one must simply take a sample of a pre-existing culture of 'JuicyBacter' which can then be used in the new JuicyPrint unit.

The Benefits of Community Labs

Our team and the lab it is based in is not associated with any academic or commercial research institutions. Instead, we are entirely community run and the funding we have managed to obtain is extremely limited in comparison to more traditional institutions.

Despite the smaller budget, the freedom which a community lab offers creates an exhilarating atmosphere and offers numerous advantages. Community labs are open to all, which makes it easy for biologists to collaborate with engineers, programmers or artists and helps to introduce biology to a broad range of people that otherwise would not have the opportunity. This in turn allows a brilliant environment for the cross pollination of ideas between individuals with backgrounds in different disciplines and often leading to innovative ideas. We hope that the diverse composition of our iGEM team and the cross-disciplinary nature of JuicyPrint is a good example of what can be achieved.

Infrastructure for a community run biolab

When we began our iGEM project, our lab was not equipped to efficiently culture bacteria or perform PCRs, and we did not have the biosafety, documentational or training infrastructure to legally carry out transformations. As a result the majority of the time invested by our team during this iGEM competition was not actually on the biology and engineering of JuicyPrint itself but instead on sorting out the infrastructure in order to make our iGEM project possible at all. Thus, projects we undertook in parallel to our iGEM entry (some of which are still ongoing) are crucial to the work we have submitted for this competition and the continued work planned for JuicyPrint. Examples of these parallel projects outside the scope of our iGEM entry are our DIY flow hood and our Standard Operation Procedure documentation. We believe that these projects may be of help to those wishing to set up new community biology labs.


Due to the coincidental similarity of biological topic and the close geographic proximity of their labs, it was possible to set up an extensive collaboration with Imperial College London's iGEM team: We were able to inform each other's work on the development of protocols for growing Gluconacetobacter. As our work on JuicyPrint continues, we will be able to extensively test the Gluconacetobacter transformation protocols their team has developed and the library of Gluconacetobacter plasmids they have designed. As the Gluconacetobacter work from Imperial's iGEM team is limited to the time they have for the iGEM project, our lab will be able to provide a well equipped space for continuation of Gluconacetobacter work. Imperial have also kindly developed a model of the cellulose production in our 3D printer.

YSB 2.0

The Young Synthetic Biologists conference conference sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and UCL was a great opportunity for us to meet with many of the British teams in lieu of the iGEM regionals this year. We presented our idea and received plenty of great feedback about how to improve our project as well from all those who attended.