NASA funds research for 3D printer that will print food — food you can eat

pizza

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting awfully tired of hearing about the latest 3D-printed guns. That’s why the news that NASA is funding research into a 3D printer with the goal of printing food is probably the best thing I’ve heard all week.

A mechanical engineer by the name of Anjan Contractor received a 6-month $125,000 grant from NASA to build a prototype for the device. Right now, the printer could be used for providing food to astronauts during long space travels but in the future, it could also be used in locations with food shortages. Eventually, Contractor wants the average household’s kitchen to have machines like this.

The advantage of using a system like this is that the printer uses cartridges that contain basic ingredients like oils and carbohydrates. Since they contain what amount to the “building blocks” of different foods, it’ll help minimize food waste by using all the ingredients fully. Also, these cartridges will have a shelf life of 30 years. The shelf life required for long distance space travel according to Contractor is 15 years, so this 3D-printed system of food would have twice that.

Contractor is set to start work on the project in the next couple of weeks. The first food that’s going to be created is music to my ears: Pizza. Good luck on this endeavor, Mr. Contractor. Mankind is counting on you.

[via SlashGear, image via rob_rob2001]

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9 comments

  1. Shawn

    Well for one thing 30 years shelf life might make things easier in certain countries for storage however the places that need them probably don’t have well.. lets see “Electricity” to run the darn thing.

    Just get the twinkies back and fill a spaceship thoses things will last 100 years…

  2. kevbo

    [@John]

    Well, perhaps I don’t understand the science behind printing foods.

    Why would I want to PRINT a hot pocket, or a pizza, or any frozen dinner or dehydrated meal, when all I have to do is just pop it into the oven or microwave, or just add hot water? Now, if it could print a ripe, juicy mango or a crisp apple; that I could understand. Otherwise, its just gimmicky.

    As to:

    “If it works, then it can be a huge benefit to many food shortage situations.”

    It seems to me that you are making packaged foods out of packaged food materials, not making food out of thin air.
    Where’s the gain or benefit? Just freeze dry/dehydrate the food in the first place, and pack it away till you need it. Leave the extra steps out.

  3. JonE

    [@John] My thoughts exactly . . . . . . .

    Star Trek here we come!

    I both saw and heard things, while in the military, that absolutely blew my mind. There were those that said that man could never fly; the Wright Brothers proved them wrong. And even as we made our first explorations into space there were many who said we would never land on the moon; those nay sayer’s were proved wrong. And now plans are being made for a trip to Mars.

    I’ve seen to many things to say ever say never or limit what science is capable of. I haven’t been in the military for over twenty years and have often wondered what kind of technology exists today, that we haven’t heard of, and know nothing about?!

  4. John

    [@kevbo]
    Why would this not make sense? If it works, then it can be a huge benefit to many food shortage situations. I do truly doubt that it will be able to make good tasting food, but maybe good enough to useful.

    The whole thing does make me think of a Star Trek replicator though.