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Can 3D Printed Space Food Feed the Whole World Someday?

by • February 24, 2016 • No Comments

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Of all the 3D printing applications, a complicated one for folks to stomach is one that affects the stomach. I am talking of 3D printed food. Why the controversy? In the past decades there’s been a expanding awareness of the health limitations of industrial food production. Not just has swift food attained a bad rap, due to talked about documentaries like Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me,” but the “slow food movement” challenges how we relate to food preparation. Author Michael Pollan’s books — The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Food Rules — have had a big effects on folks’s food behaviors. He tells us to slow down, eat mostly plants, and my very own favorite: “Don’t eat anything your excellent grandmother mayn’t recognize as food.” If you take this rule to heart, what is the true next of 3D printed food?

food5In this context of expanding health and ecological awareness, 3D printed food awkwardly asserts itself and its own relevance. But how much growth can we see in this market beyond a gimmicky or boutique NASA niche, quite? One answer to this question is provided by Anjan Contractor, whose Systems and Materials Research Corporation has attained a $125,000 NASA grant to turn it into a prototype for a universal food synthesizer. This type of machine prints food of powder and oil that can presumably contain all things necessary for well-balanced meals: protein, complicated carbohydrates, etc. But complicated to stomach? No worries. Contractor relies on a global population scare tactic to let us understand that we are headed in the way of 3D printed food anyway due to the world’s imminent population crisis:

“I ponder, and most economists ponder, that current food processs can’t donate 12 billion folks sufficiently. So we some day have to alter our perception of what we see as food.”

Because the population argument rests on speculation with too most external variables (for example, we may have to solve the digital divide for all folks in order to commence 3D printing) perhaps it can do Contractor well to stick to the niche market strategy for his vision of 3D printed food: outer space. His NASA grant is meant for a process that can print food for astronauts, and no worries in this department if you like mealworm, that is the primary ingredient in the space breakswift food at a lower place.

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Contractor has long-distance space travel food issues covered. He states:

“Long distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life. The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it can last perhaps 30 years.”

food4What is Contractor’s thoughtl form of 3D printed space food? Pizza! But at the conceptual stage, a pizza printing device embodies the thoughtl 3D printed food thought since you naturally create pizza in layers. First comes the dough, and so the tomato base elicited of a powder form, and finally a top protein layer: bugs, anyone?

But not finding this appetizing? Well, you may be drawn to the thought that all of Contractor’s designs can be open-source: the 2nd generation RepRap 3D printing device is the inspiration for his own food printing machine. Now if we can just wrap our minds, and stomachs, around the “alternative ingredients” that are said to constitute the “food-like starting material” that has been outlined by Dutch holding company TNO, that owns most tech firms.

Do you ponder your excellent grandmother may recognize food 3D printed of algae, duckweed, beet leaves, or insects? Probably not! In a space context, Martian pizza can manufacture sense, but the verdict is yet out on whether it can be Martian pizza for the masses — whether we like it or not. Tell us your thoughts in the 3D Printed Space Food forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Quartz]