Understanding and Engineering of Natural Surfaces with Additive Manufacturing 3D-Printed Biosurfaces

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the Annual International Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium


Benthic algae systems that attach to substrata have been shown effective in water pollution remediation and biomass production, but yields are limited by attachment preferences in wild cultivars. This work seeks to uncover the surface topography preferences for algal attachment by reproducing natural surface topographies using additive manufacturing. To date, no other research efforts have taken advantage of using additive manufacturing to reverse engineer the characteristics of natural surfaces for enhancement of the attachment preferences of certain periphyton species towards substrata topography. Natural rocks and surfaces with attached biofilms were retrieved from streams, scanned with optical profilometry, and the surface characteristics were analyzed. A material jetting process is used to additively manufacture the surfaces, followed by optical profilometry to validate the resultant topography. The results show that certain texture parameters (e.g., Smr, Sa, and Sv) are significant in affecting the biomass adhesion of specific algal communities.