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The future of food: NASA's printed pizza

Wed, 05/22/2013 - 1:50pm
Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor

In the great world of 3D printing, nothing is more fascinating to me than the idea of printed food.  There have been some rumblings about printed meat, but it’s been mostly outliers in the industry. However, NASA just made it a little more legitimate with by offering a $125,000 grant to Systems and Materials Research Corp to develop a 3D printed version of an American (and worldwide) favorite: Pizza.

Unlike the meat printing company, NASA has a semi-legitimate need for the pizza. With the estimated travel time to Mars in the decade-plus range—should they figure out how the technical aspects of getting there—NASA runs into an issue of food. The food or ingredients would have to last for upwards of 15 years (no Shoprite in space).

Pizza—in addition to a high caloric count—is a natural transition food for 3D printing because it already comes in layers so the printer would only have to deal with one substance at a time.  The printed dough—baked at the same time as it’s printed via a heated plate—would then be covered in a tomato base. The tomato base would start as a powder and then be mixed with oil and water for printing. Last, but not least, the pizza is topped with an animal, plant or milk-based protein layer.

By removing all the water from the ingredients and packing them in a powder form, the researchers estimate the “food” could last for 30 years.

As an added bonus, once the prototype (seen about) is perfected, this could be a solution to hunger issues in developing (or developed nations.)

 

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