A 3D food printer could feed astronauts during long-distance space travel, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a pizza-printing prototype.
Anjan Contractor, who founded the company, developed a food printer would use cartridges of powders and oils -- shelf-stable for up to 30 years -- to create customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals from sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein and other basic building blocks.
Quartz reports that Contractor will begin building his pizza printer within two weeks. It works by first printing a layer of dough, which is baked by a heated plate at the bottom of the printer. Then it prints a tomato layer made from a powder base mixed with water and oil, followed by a final protein layer.
Contractor's printer is based on the open-source RepRap 3D printer, and he plans to keep his software open source as well. He envisions a future where every kitchen has a 3D food printer, and people create and share "recipes" as they might create and share apps.
The sources of the organic base powders used for printing could come from anywhere, including insects, algae and grass.
The prototype for Contractor's pizza printer was a simpler chocolate printer, which was not the first of its kind, but this trial video was enough to win the grant through NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program.