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Items on the menu include cricket pizza

Imagine exchanging recipes in the form of a piece of software instead of typed instructions on a website, and eating pizza with crickets on it instead of pepperoni.

This could be the future of long-term space travel, and even everyday life.

Anjan Contractor, who own Systems & Materials Research Corporation, has created a universal food synthesizer that uses a 3D printer to make food -- and he just received a six-month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype.

His prototype 3D food printer is based on a piece of open-source hardware called the second-generation RepRap 3D printer.  

The universal food synthesizer would read recipes in software form, where instructions on how to make certain foods would be embedded. This software tells the 3D printer which powders to mix with which liquids.

The software will also be entirely open-source, so that others can look at the code and create recipes.  

After the 3D printer "reads" the recipe, it uses a combination of powdered and certain liquid ingredients to make food layer-by-layer -- just like other 3D printed materials. Powdered forms of ingredients are used because they last longer.

“Long distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life,” said Contractor. “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 will last maybe 30 years.”

Users of the universal food synthesizer can add the exact amount of proteins, carbs, etc. that they want for nutritional value. 

Also, because meat is environmentally unsustainable, the 3D printer uses insects, algae, grass, duckweed, etc. for protein. 

The first idea for the prototype is a pizza, where the printer would make a dough layer first, then a tomato paste layer and finally, a protein layer made of insects, plants or milk-based powder. 

While this 3D printed food is mainly for long-term space travel right now, Contractor believes it could also have a place in every kitchen as the human population increases. Toward the end of the century when the population is expected to be around 12 billion, a universal food synthesizer could eliminate food waste and ensure that all 12 billion mouths are fed with balanced nutrition. 

Source: Quartz

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RE: advancement?
By invidious on 5/21/2013 2:41:22 PM , Rating: 3
Making it yourself requires fresh ingredients and a kitchen, space shuttles have neither. This is one appliance that uses extremely refined ingredients and repurposes them into something that loosely resembles food that a person would consider apetizing. Obviously it won't be as good as fresh food but it will probably be a big step up from homogenized nutrient slurry.

Also I think you are confusing printing with constructing. Printers create simple objects, constructors assemble complex objects. For example a 3D printer can make all the parts for a watch, but it can't assemble them into a watch, a constructor does that.

RE: advancement?
By BRB29 on 5/22/2013 9:14:57 AM , Rating: 2
Eventually, only the rich could afford fresh food and a kitchen. It's going to happen and it's inevitable.

RE: advancement?
By Reclaimer77 on 5/22/2013 9:30:24 AM , Rating: 2
Whenever you have people starving, it's not because of food supply. It always boils down to politics.

However that's a pretty bold statement you're making. People have been saying it for 50+ years in one form or another, and haven't been right yet.

Perhaps inevitable if we continue the course of a one-world centralized Government embracing socialism...

RE: advancement?
By BRB29 on 5/22/2013 11:10:56 AM , Rating: 2
It's going to happen when population density is high. For example, it's already happening in the cities. Space is expensive. Most new apartments sacrifice kitchen size to have more space in the living quarters. That is also why open floor plans are more popular because it gives the feeling of a larger space.

I know for a fact that many people in NYC, DC, Chicago, etc... are living in places with no kitchen or a very small one that does not have everything.

I don't know where you're basing anything you say from but it's real and it's already happening. You probably don't live in a crowded area and probably narrow minded.

RE: advancement?
By ven1ger on 5/22/2013 2:32:41 PM , Rating: 2
What you say is very true. Apartments have seen changes to the bathroom, where there is only a shower where there used to be a tub. Bedroom sizes have shrunk or the number of bathrooms have gotten reduced, so now kitchens are getting trimmed down.

If you look at extremely dense cities, outside of the US, say like Hong Kong, you see stacked beds with many living in very crowded conditions or look at Tokyo where many have very small living spaces enough for a futon, possibly a dresser, small frig. and usually a microwave for heating. Space is definitely at a premium and with a price tag to match.

RE: advancement?
By Reclaimer77 on 5/22/2013 8:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
There's a massive flaw in your premise that's two parts.

1. We're seeing a trend of rock-bottom birth rates in developed countries. The U.S and Europe are at 50 year lows. It's common to have families with more grandparents than grandchildren today. The doomsayer predictions of yesteryear over the overpopulation of the human race just isn't happening.

2. This isn't Judge Dread, we're not forced to live in "Megacities". There's so much room for humans to expand it's not even funny. People choose to live in high population centers for convenience and other factors, yes. But most of the land mass on Earth is barely being utilized!

So your claim that "eventually only the rich will have kitchens"? Nah. And if so, like I said, it will be for political reasons. Not population density or land mass.

You probably don't live in a crowded area and probably narrow minded.

Seems like you are. The living conditions of NYC, DC, Chicago etc etc simply don't represent the majority of us. Not even close.

Also the economy and conditions in a lot of these large cities are causing a mass exodus. People are LEAVING the cities bro.

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