NASA has awarded a grant of $125,000 to an engineer who is trying to construct a 3-D printer for food. The printer can put together the complex chemical ingredients needed to create edible food products.
NASA's goal is to more efficiently supply the food needs of astronauts on long missions (such as one to Mars), but the inventor hopes the innovations could help with Earth's looming food shortages.
The printer will be partly based on the classic RepRap open-source 3-D plastic printer model. It works via a suite of cartridges loaded with nutrients, proteins and other food components. These are stored in powder form for a longer shelf life. The plan is to test the rig by printing a layer of dough in a circle, topping it with tomato powder mixed with water and oil, and adding a layer of protein on the top, and voila: a 3-D-printed pizza.