NASA has selected the Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) to receive a $125,000 grant to research and develop a 3-D food printer.
SMRC’s hopes to develop a printer that will create items from nutrients and flavorings stored in powdered form. Once a recipe is chosen, the ingredients will be blended with water and oil in a mixing chamber. Then, the 3-D printer would create the food by adding layers of material with the guide of a digital blueprint.
“SMRC has proposed a 3-D printed food system for long duration space missions,” said Allard Beutel of NASA. “The proposal was selected for contract negotiation because of its merits in addressing NASA’s advanced food system technology needs as we prepare for long duration human space exploration.”
Currently, astronauts carry prepackaged foods similar to those that are used in the military. Printed food would require less storage space and could be more nutritious.
Bryan Jernigan says the idea of 3-D food printers makes future missions to Mars “even more enticing.” In an interview, the Cerritos High School chemistry teacher also pointed out potential Earth applications for the technology.
“The 3-D food printers will not only make the Mars missions more efficient and sustainable, but would be [a way to solve] hunger throughout the world as well,” Jernigan said.