Team:Paris Bettencourt/HP/Silver


Silver HP

Our Market Research: Understanding the future context of use of Medusa

The first thing on our task list was to scope out the industry and size up the competition, so we started focusing on our market research. To ensure that our axes of development were in line with the expectation of our future users, we attempted to determine what would attract or deter them from using our 3D-bioprinting device
To understand what our target users will print with our device, we researched what the 3D printing community is currently printing. To do so we extracted the downloading, liking and printing activity on, one of the most popular and open sources 3D-templates database.

Popular Categories on

As primary research, we found surveys to be the best way to get the most information we needed, in a short amount of time. Therefore we designed surveys for 3D printer users. Our goal with our surveys was, on one hand to better understand the place of the 3D printer inside of the technological arsenal of today, as well as where it will stand in the future. On the other hand, we wanted to understand how 3D printer users view the device, and why they use it. We posted on facebook hobby groups to question the 3D-printing community more specifically on its vision of bacterial printing. We noted that 3D printing was mostly used by DIY hobbyists who would like to reduce the time and cost of 3D printing. In addition, low performances for safety efficiency and speed were flagged as the key hold-backs to using a 3D-bioprinter

What Would Deter You Most From Using a Bio-3D-printer?

What Are You Most Likely to Print?

Would you like to try bioprinting stuff ?
The initial input of our online researches showed that the idea of printing biomaterials with a 3D-bioprinter intrigued and was well received within the DIY community. Given the biosafety and operating requirements of a bioprinter, we inferred that biohacker spaces and fablabs would be its ideal context of use.

In order to get more information, we then conducted interviews in several fablabs and makerspaces in Paris.In addition to our initial survey input, we were eager to target the fablab community for two main reasons. The first one is that this community represents a lot of values we stand for: giving the means to people to create products and experiment in a creative way. This is something that would cost a lot of money if it wasn’t for fablabs and makerspaces. Moreover, this is such a huge community, represented all over the world, that by displaying our biomaterial 3D printer, it enables us to reach people all around.

We seeked to better understand the users of these spaces by meeting and interviewing the managers of all the 7 fablabs in Paris.Namely, we visited Fablab University Paris VII Diderot, La Paillasse, Pasteur Fablab, Le Petit Fablab de Paris, Usine IO, Volumes, WoMa, and we also interviewed David Sun Kong from the MIT Media Lab.

We picked those fablabs in particular because they are all very different, from the business incubator to the volunteer-run community fablab, and the people in charge had very different personal opinions about 3D printers, which made the interviews particularly interesting. We also notice that the type of customers varies according to the type of fablab/makerspace, thus we were able to target customers such as regulars, private individuals or companies.

When asking whether those fablabs would likely purchase our future device, we actually realized that professionals are very much divided on the importance of current 3D printers. While some believe it’s an extraordinary machine that will keep on expanding and become indispensable in the future, others see the device as overly hyped by the media and only used to produce prototypes.

Regardless of their opinion on current 3D-printing, all our interviewees converged on the fact that technicality and safety hazards associated with the microbiology would hinder the use of our printer. In addition, the more "bio-aware" biohacker spaces seemed more concerned by the efficiency and speed of our innovation.

Overall we received very interesting comments and relevant feed back from our interview. Watch how Medusa was perceived by maker space in our summary footage

Interviewing David Sun Kong from the MIT Media Lab
After the primary research where we collected all of the data, we could now switch to the secondary research by analyzing what extracted. We gained a better understanding of the use of the 3D printer, mostly the why, where and how. Identifying the market was the key for visualizing what our project would bring to society. As a biomaterial 3D printer, we realized that such a device is still a bit avant-gardist, however consumers responded very well to the idea, and would like to know and understand more. Every fablab we talked to were willing to display our printer, as long as it safe to use. This is very encouraging for the future of our project and we hope that one day, we will be able to distribute our product to fablabs all over the world.


One of our main concern about our project was the safety issue. As we are using bacteria to make our biomaterial 3D printer, our work needs to be safe. This is why we implemented a cell-lysis system inside of our design. Therefore it is easy to activate the lysis and kill the cell. This was one of the biggest issues when creating the device.

Questions about safety systematically came up whether it was on the survey or during the interviews with the fablabs. Because we needed not only the opinion of 3D printer users but also professional people, working with 3D printers.
We obtained very positive feedback. We had been afraid that people would be scared or wary towards our project, but it was surprising and gratifying to see that they were actually more intrigued and interested in what our printer could actually do. To even go further with the safety issue, we went to Brussels, to the European Union headquarters and met with Dr. Namorado, a member of the ethical board in the EU’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. We discussed our project with her and explained our concern about safety. We reviewed together the EU’s Horizon 2020 ethical criteria and we made sure that our work was in compliance with it.

Environmental Impact

When designing our biomaterial 3D printer, we kept in mind the environmental impact. This is a very important side of our device, as we believe the era of plastic and other fossil-fuel based products is over. By working with 3 different biomaterials, produced by bacteria, we ensure that the end result will be totally biodegradable, and renewable by compost. We took this essential parameter into account while developing the market research. Biomaterials will be a key elements of the products of the future, and we want to replace polluting materials with eco-friendly, biocompatible ones. It is morally imposs

Advice for iGEM Entrepreneurs

Our market research taught us a lot on the key aspects to keep in mind when building a start up. A lot we learnt was from Shazzad Mukit, a former iGEMer turned entrepreneur. We include here

One of the founding members of Unibiome, a 2015 iGEM Team turned start-up. Check them out at: Unibiome

Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI)
Faculty of Medicine Cochin Port-Royal, South wing, 2nd floor
Paris Descartes University
24, rue du Faubourg Saint Jacques
75014 Paris, France