NASA Commissions 3D Food Printer Prototype

Mike O'Brien

It could end up being one giant leap for mankind. NASA has commissioned mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor to come up with a 3D food printer.

The agency has given him $125,000 and told him to develop a prototype of his food printing concept, with the eventual aim of feeding space travellers on long-distance space trips.

Other scientists have been working on their versions, but NASA wants Mr. Contractor to simplify the process by cutting down the inputs to nothing more than a combination of different powders that could be mixed with water and oil to produce a meal layer by layer.

The system can be then applied to producing relatively simple food like pizza, which is structured in layers, from dough to sauce to protein, reports.

The printer must be able to produce a meal that satisfies all of the basic nutritional requirements and could be adapted to make food specifically tailored to a person's individual needs.

As part of the NASA plan, the food would be stored in a simple dehydrated powder, thereby eliminating waste and giving it a shelf life for up to 30 years.

Aside from the obvious advantages to space travel, 3D food printing may be the answer to food sustainability issues currently being studied by scientists.

Mr.Contractor certainly believes printed food could provide a more efficient way to feed the world's growing population than traditional farms.

He told "I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can't supply 12 billion people sufficiently. So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food."

The engineer caught the eye of NASA with his printed chocolate trial video. You can watch the video below.