NASA to use 3D printing for making food in space
image courtesy TNO research
NASA has awarded anjan contractor - a mechanical engineer for the systems and materials research corporation (SMRC) - a small business innovation research
contract worth 125,000 USD to develop a universal 3D printing prototype for synthesizing food. the study by the texas-based company will conduct studies
to test the feasibility of using additive manufacturing for making meals in space - the first of which will be a fully edible pizza. the concept will use building
blocks in replaceable powder cartridges that when combined, creates different combinations of food types. it works by first 'printing' a layer of dough,
which is baked at the same time by a heated plate at the bottom of the machine. it then lays down a tomato base, 'which is also stored in a powdered form,
and then mixed with water and oil,' says contractor.
the software for the creation will be open-source, and the hardware will be based on the existing open-source 'rep rap mendel' 3D printer. as the current NASA
diet system doesn't meet the nutritional needs and five-year shelf life required for a mission to mars or other long duration missions, contractor's cartridges
are estimated to have a shelf life of almost 30 years, which will enable longer duration space missions.
chocolate printing trial
video courtesy anjan contractor
the 3D food printer is based on the open-source 'rep-rap mendel'
image courtesy rep rap
gastronomy diagram - how the system works
image courtesy systems and materials research corporation
3D printing food
video courtesy TNO research
arrival of fresh food and supplies delivered on the international space station
image © NASA