With all the hoopla and controversy over the first firing of the 3-D-printed gun, here's something everyone can agree is less controversial and astronomically cooler: NASA is funding research on 3-D printed food!
Yup! To feed astronauts that might one day travel to Mars, the space agency has selected a Texas-based firm to develop a 3-D printer that will create a pizza from scratch using powdered ingredients mixed with water and oil. The printer will presumably turn this food toner into something edible, starting with the dough layer, working up to the sauce, cheese, and protein. The proposed machine has been inevitably compared to the food replicator on Star Trek!
The pie-in-the-sky (pun intended) goal, is to eventually get a printer that can print out any food you enter into it, including uploaded recipes for grandma's cookies sent as a care package from Earth.
The concept is still in the idea stages, but NASA is pursuing it because current astronaut food, which is basically military-style MRE's, has been deemed “not adequate in nutrition or acceptability through the five-year shelf life required for a mission to Mars, or other long duration missions,” as one NASA spokesman put it.
The Washington Post has more on the story and has created a graphic to show how the 3-D food printer might work.