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3-D Printed Food: NASA Contracts Mechanical Engineer To Build A 'Universal Food Synthesizer'

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 05/21/13 EDT Updated: 05/22/13 EDT

Want a pizza? How about a printed one?

As long as you don't mind the "protein layer" (a.k.a the cheese) coming from potentially dubious sources (like insects), you might be in luck. Mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor and his company Systems & Materials Research Corporation have just received a $125,000 grant from NASA to create a "universal food synthesizer" for 3-D-printed food, Quartz reports.

NASA believes a machine like Contractor's could help feed astronauts on long space flights, where traditional foods won't keep. In the future, the machine may also allow restaurants and dieters to customize food to meet certain calorie counts and taste preferences, as The Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker reported last month.

"Instead of eating a quarter of a donut to cut calories, you instead might be able to buy a whole pastry from the corner deli, then watch the donut 3D printed before your eyes -- with one-fourth the calories and just the right amount of fiber to bring you up to your daily minimum," Bosker writes.

The reaction to the machine so far has been split: Some want to make sure 3-D printers are used for food instead of guns, ("Don't print guns, print food!") while some are grossed out by the idea ("I think I'll stick to @soylent.")

Considering that climate change is already making several once-common food items dip in availability, Contractor's printer may prove to be very useful. After all, protein powder may sound unappetizing now -- but it's better than eating the insects still in their shells.