NASA to fund a 3D printer for food

It has been revealed that NASA are funding research into a 3D food printer, with the aim of automating the creation of food.

Mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor received a $125,000 grant from the agency to build a prototype 3D printer, with hopes that it could provide food for astronauts during long-distance space travel.

However, beyond the uses for NASA, there is the wider aim of solving food shortages across the world.

According to Quartz, the software for the printer will be open-source, while the hardware is based on the open-source RepRap Mendel 3D printer. The concept, though, is to use ‘building blocks’ of food in replaceable powder cartridges – then, these blocks will be combined to make a wide range of foods. Each cartridge will have a lifespan of 30 years, too!

Contractor has proved that his system work on a basic level by printing chocolate, but now the next step is to attempt to print a pizza. The dough will be printed first and cooked during the process, before mixing tomato powder with water and oil to print a tomato sauce a nondescript ‘protein layer.’