The big question: ‘what materials will we invent in the next decade?’

Wired asks a selection of academics and business types for their thoughts on this month’s big question: “What materials will we invent in the next decade? ”Oron CattsDirector, SymbioticA “As biology turns into an engineering pursuit, life is becoming a…

Wired asks a selection of academics and business types for their thoughts on this month’s big question: “What materials will we
invent in the next decade?

”Oron CattsDirector, SymbioticA

“As biology turns into an engineering pursuit, life is becoming
a raw material. In the next decade we will see attempts to use
living and lifelike systems as smart materials that self-assemble,
self-heal and perform different functions. Some will escape our
control and will transmute into weeds and pests. Welcome to the new
ecology.”

Zoe Laughlin Cofounder and director, The Institute of
Making“I believe we will see the advancement of 3D-printing
technologies to enable the creation of new materials. Once the
resolution of printing is at the micro scale and below, printing
becomes nanoengineering. New structures become possible which could
result in transparent metals, conductive woods, impenetrable
plastics.”

Andras ForgacsCofounder, Modern
Meadow

“We will see advances in lab-grown materials with unique
qualities. These may mimic nature with a fraction of the
environmental footprint. We’ll see lab-grown and improved versions
of leather, ivory and horn. Edible products such as cultured meat,
with better nutritional qualities, will take longer, but may still
be on a few tasting events’ menus.”

Zach Kaplan CEO, Inventables“In the next decade we are going to see all sorts of speciality
3D-printer filament. You’ll see filaments with electronic particles
mixed in them, so you can print circuit boards, and filaments with
tiny microsensors inside. The internet of things is going to give
rise to an entire generation of contextually aware and responsive
materials.”

Jim BiddulphProjects and materials manager, Material Lab

“Materials will have to become more sustainable as we tackle
ongoing environmental concerns. And because of demands on space,
manufacturers will have to stock fewer products, so ‘made to order’
will become more mainstream. This also reduces waste and will make
it more affordable for people to get exactly what they want.”Thorsten KloosterCofounder, BlingCrete

“We will use common materials such as concrete, paper or clay,
with smart features including light-reflecting, conductive and
sensing properties. This new genre of high-tech, low-budget
materials with their own social, public-spirited logic of use will
be practical for co-operative methods of project-oriented,
collaborative design and building.”