Feel like eating pizza? One may no longer have to drive to the nearby pizzeria or order a home delivery in the near future but just hit print on their computer to get it freshly printed out of a 3D printer.
The latest NASA funded research into 3D printed food may make it possible soon. The space organization has awarded a $125,000 grant to Anjan Contractor of Systems & Materials Research Corporation under its Small Business Innovation Research (SIBR) program to develop a fully functional 3D food printer which could come in handy on its future Mars missions. Anjan has earlier built a laboratory sale 3D chocolate printer and he wishes the technology to be used not just be astronauts in space, but also by those on terra-firma.
The new 3D food printer currently in conceptual stage will be based on RepRap’s open source hardware and print pizzas. The pizzas will be printed in 3 layers using nutritional powders in replaceable cartridges. A first layer of dough is printed, followed by a layer of tomato sauce and finally a protein layer for topping. These nutritional powders will contain all necessary carbohydrates, proteins micronutrients and macronutrients with a very long shelf life which is important for long distance space travel.
The development of 3D food printing technology using nutrient powders will pave new avenues for personalized nutrition by providing an option to program individual needs to the printer to customize food depending up on the dietary needs.