13 Jun 2015

3D printing rhino horns

From This Way Up, 12:50 pm on 13 June 2015
3D printing rhino horns

3D printing rhino horns Photo: Darson Du

Powdered synthetic rhino horn.

Powdered synthetic rhino horn. Photo: Darson Du

Rhino horn can sell for up to US$100,000 a kilo, making it more expensive per gram than gold, platinum or cocaine.

The poaching and illegal hunting of rhinos for their horns has pushed some species, like the black rhino, close to extinction.

But could technology help save the rhino? A San Francisco biotech company called Pembient is trying to make substitute rhino horns in the lab using a mix of genetics and 3-D printing techniques.

The bioengineered horns are all but identical to the real thing, and cost a lot less. Also many consumers seem willing to accept these lab-made products in place of wild rhino horns.

Matthew Markus is Pembient's CEO.

Pembient rhino horn.

Pembient rhino horn. Photo: Darson Du