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Ending Hunger with 3D-Printed Food

Date: May 21, 2013

 

We have heard about 3D printed implants and 3D printed cars, but an individual is looking to bring 3D printing to a whole new level with 3D printed food. Anjan Contractor is a mechanical engineering who recently received $125,000 in funding from NASA to create a prototype 3D printer which creates food. If Contractor is successful with his findings, he would not only find a solution to provide food for space travel but also sustenance in the future as resources become scarce.

Contractor envisions a day where every kitchen has a 3D printer with 12 billion people feeding themselves customized meals from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. The development of a viable food printer would mean the end of food waste as the powders used for his system would be shelf-stable for up to 30 years; each cartridge containing sugars, carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block. The long life span of these materials would be ideal for astronauts on very long space missions.

While eating something spat out from the same kind of machines used to create engine parts doesn’t sound appetizing, Contractor says it is because currently we can afford the good stuff. As the world’s population reaches its peak and resources become scarce, we may need to resort to 3D printed foods to fight world hunger. “I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” says Contractor. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”

So what kinds of food should we expect from 3D printing? There are endless possibilities with 3D printing but in this case, pizza. Over the next two weeks, Contractor will begin working on the creation of a 3D printer which creates pizza. If all goes as planned, astronauts could one day enjoy a hot pizza while in space.


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