Forget 3D printed guns... Who's up for pizza?
NASA may have closed up shop on its space shuttle program, but it's still looking to the future to provide the latest and greatest technology to benefit our men and women in space. This technology apparently includes 3D printers to produce food.
According to Quartz, the space agency doled out $125,000 in grant funding to a single mechanical engineering firm to build a prototype 3D printer that could provide food for astronauts on long-distance space travel missions. The technology could also be used to fight food shortages here on earth.
The Verge has more:
The concept is to use basic "building blocks" of food in replaceable powder cartridges. By combining each block, a wide range of foods should be able to be created by the printer. The cartridges will have a lifespan of 30 years, more than long enough to enable long-distance space travel. After proving his system works on a basic level by printing chocolate, Contractor will start his project within the next few weeks by attempting to print a pizza.
The pizza printer will first print a layer of dough, which will be cooked while being printed, before mixing tomato powder with water and oil to print a tomato sauce. The topping for the pizza will be a nondescript "protein layer." It's early days for the project, but if it's successful it would be a real milestone on the way towards a Star Trek-style Replicator.