To discover new ideas, we wrote a story about the “Mini.ink” factory. It describes how our bioreactor could be implemented, the way it could be managed and shows the social exchanges it could create.
“Mini.Ink, Indigo textile dyeing” - Main story
2026. A Thursday in October.
Every morning, after a hearty breakfast, Frida rides her bike to work in the 20th district of Paris. During the trip, she admires trees, flowers along the road. She appreciates the sound of birds and the silence of Paris waking up slowly with the sun.
Upon arrival, she drops her bike and enters a dark red brick building, probably built during the first industry area. It is now covered by ivy. She goes up to her office, drinks another cup of coffee while reading her emails, and starts working.
Frida goes to turn on the light to wake up, step by step, this local factory called “Mini.ink”. Light after light, an incredible spectacle starts to appear: wood loom, cotton plant, sewing machines, dyed textiles and finally the bioreactor, her favorite part!
The first task of the morning is to collect the pigments from the machine and to put them into another tray, adding the appropriate medium for cotton dyeing. Another tray contains a medium for silk, another one for synthetic fibers… Her recipe book is gathering dust, she knows everything by heart!
With a controlled gesture, she disassembles the second part of the machine easily, picking up each element from the structure to a cadis, then grabbing clean elements to replace each piece. Moving the cadis, she can now clean the old elements in the little laboratory installed in an adjacent room She removes the waste tank containing dead E. coli (the dead mother cells) to be treated as a biowaste. Concerning these biowastes, Frida plans to experiment on them during the rest of the week. She would like to re-use it. She also has some ideas regarding the cotton plant, or to implement a new biological process… After all, Mini.ink is a little factory, constantly experimenting around its own process, inviting and creating social connexion.
The bioreactor is connected to a network. It sends notifications to employees telling them when the machine needs to be cleaned, it informs on the process and gathers data. All this information finally will be used to upgrade the machine and the biological process. Thanks to the automation with an Arduino, manipulation is not required, increasing biosafety. Arabinose is added by itself, turbidity is also controlled without the need to take a sample out and measure density with a spectrophotometer.
After lunch, coming from their little garden behind the factory, she takes some of the pigments to dye textiles produced beforehand from their own cotton. “Mini.ink” and a local clothes brand were collaborating this month to create a limited edition, with some funds given to environmental associations. The day before she prepared textiles called mordanting using alum and acetic acid. By mixing the pigments at different concentrations, she is able to create a variety of colors.
Before she leaves, another part of the machine needs to be changed and cleaned. Frida brought clean tanks, pipes, and valves from the autoclave room to replace the dirty ones. She assembles all elements together, brings an E. coli culture and IPTG to put inside the first tank. Another finished cycle, both the machine and minicells can produce once again!
Around 5 PM, her colleague Martin arrives to lead an open workshop, allowing people to dye their own clothes, tint or paint new textiles and make new clothes.
Tons of people came this time! Mostly families or students. And this evening, a special group of students coming from a fashion school brought their own textiles that they made from nettles. Their main goal is to create clothes with resources coming from Paris only. It is really challenging!
Martin starts by saying :
“Here, we produce pigments from bacteria! Less water, less transport, and we increase accessibility for more people to take part in our project and to use pigments. Don’t worry, the machine is biosafe by design thanks to the use of minicells, the double separation method we created and the automatization of the process. Our risk managing team thoroughly analyzed the process to ensure our safety as well as the safety of our environment. I’m really happy to welcome everybody here! Let’s do the presentations.”
After a short introduction on the product, the bioreactor, and the pigments, Martin groups the people around the tank containing pigments. He opens the hat and lets people see the type of color existing inside. Other elements are placed around the tanks to prepare mixtures allowing people to tint or do screen printing. The first step of the workshop can finally start.
Martin previously created different teams depending on each person’s goal. He gave different mixtures and a recipe book to each group.
After a while, people get back to their table and start organizing their project.
Fashion students are really interesting during the workshop. They use different densities of dye on different textiles samples, to obtain three or four different colors. They cut different long pieces of fabric and start to make braidings with it, creating a chessboard pattern. By the end of the session, they had composed a long coat. They embroidered a deep indigo thread to add details on the top, drawing abstract shapes.
Now, the workshop is finished! Everybody is wearing their final clothes! Martin takes pictures and prints them directly on the wall, with pictures from other workshops!
Interpretation of the implementation scenario as a 3D render - #1
Interpretation of the implementation scenario as a 3D render - #2
Interpretation of the implementation scenario as a 3D render - #3