U.S. space agency NASA has tapped 3-D printer firm Systems & Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) to create the first-ever “Star Trek”-style food replicator using 3-D printing technology.
According to Quartz, NASA gave the company a six month, $125,000 grant contract to focus on developing 3-D printers that use cartridges full of carbohydrates, protein powders and oils that can be combined in layers to produce food.
The tech could dramatically cut down on food waste here on Earth while making it much easier to transport nutrients in bulk through space. Grocery stores could be gradually transformed to ultra-cheap cartridge retailers while non-nutrient edible products are phased out by market forces.
Of course, that’s all a radical, highly speculative version of the future, but it’s what SMRC mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor envisions for 3-D printed foods. He’s already successfully used a 3-D printer to spit out chocolate bars; an admittedly rudimentary accomplishment.
One day, however, more advanced printers could be used to customize nutrition for individuals, and whole meals could be downloaded over the Internet. But that’s all still fantasy until SMRC, or some other company, steps up to fill this void that most people don’t even know exists.
[“Stock Photo: Portrait Of Happy Family Spending Time In Pizzeria” on Shutterstock.]