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3-D Printable Food Gets Funding From NASA

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the enjoy-a-tasty-extrudel dept.

NASA 242

cervesaebraciator writes "According to Quartz, '[Anjan Contractor's] Systems & Materials Research Corporation just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer. But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3-D printing, envisions a much more mundane — and ultimately more important — use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3-D printer, and the earth's 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor's vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.' No word yet on whether anyone other than the guy trying to sell the technology thinks it'll make palatable food."

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242 comments

Tea Earl Grey Hot (4, Funny)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year ago | (#43787075)

The replicator!!!

Re:Tea Earl Grey Hot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787441)

1. Push button.
2. Nom.
3. Nom.
4. Nom.
5. ...
6. Profit!

Re:Tea Earl Grey Hot (3, Funny)

optikos (1187213) | about a year ago | (#43787477)

No, its the pastel glop served at the restaurant during the restaurant in the 1985 Terry Gilliam film _Brazil_.

Re:Tea Earl Grey Hot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787727)

i am so done with inkjet cartridges...

pink slime or cheetos? (4, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#43787765)

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot!

the Nutri-Matic machine provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

Almost there (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43787099)

We already eat foods that could be stored for years.

But I still prefer to dry-freeze them in blocks and then cut them up on my CNC into regular food shapes.

What about.. (3, Interesting)

sjwt (161428) | about a year ago | (#43787101)

I hope it has a way to print a decent texture.. I would prefer not to live off mush.

Re:What about.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787261)

Why bake when you can extrude?

Careful about Complaints (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#43788285)

I'd be careful about complaining about the food it prints to the cook. It probably will not be long before someone figures out how to make it print an edible gun.

Only Terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787121)

Would want to print food.

Expect Monsanto to go to congress soon to try to restrict 3D printing.

Re:Only Terrorists (4, Insightful)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year ago | (#43787161)

Exactly. With this new 3d printing technology people will now want to MAKE FOOD AT HOME! My god! We need to make it so its strictly regulated and people can only get food from government approved sites.

Re:Only Terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787965)

just shut up

Re:Only Terrorists (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about a year ago | (#43788017)

Who do you think will be the only ones able to handle the regulatory burden that comes with producing the raw materials for this machine? Also, National Health Ministries will have a field day with this. Now they can finally monitor and make sure that all citizens eat healtily and according to regulations and recommendations every day.

This is against current food movements. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787139)

This will sell to lazy people of the same breed who buy pod coffee machines for home use.

There is an ever growing movement of people who don't want to eat anything that has loose synthetic origin or contains any "chemicals".

I'd rather just have a rooftop garden and compost all the waste. It's also zero-waste and is a lot more appealing, tasty and rewarding than tech like this ever could be.

Sounds like it could catch on for remote areas or situations where growing food is difficult, but otherwise it seems like a step in the wrong direction.

Re:This is against current food movements. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43787229)

There is an ever growing movement of people who don't want to eat anything that has loose synthetic origin or contains any "chemicals".

I know that the green movement is sort of radical at times, but does this mean they are taking it literally and want to photosynthesize?

...hmm, on the other hand, think of the Orion babes...

Re:This is against current food movements. (3, Funny)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43787237)

Please tell me what this chemical free food is?

Make sure there is none of that dihydrogen monoxide in it, that stuff is lethal.

Re:This is against current food movements. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787527)

OP here. There is a reason I put "chemicals" in quotation marks. If you have never met people who fear "chemicals" and have no clue what that word actually means, you must be living under a rock.

Re:This is against current food movements. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787653)

I don't usually hang around idiots. Sorry.

Re:This is against current food movements. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43788265)

You must be new here. And an idiot. Sorry.

Re:This is against current food movements. (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#43787755)

Chemical free food is food that does not contain chemicals that don't belong into the food, like: roundup, herbizides, fungizides, pestizides, DDT, recycled engine oil, dioxin, heavy metals ...

Sorry, but your question was a dumb one. You perfectly know what "ordinary" people consider a "chemical free food".

However if you are scared of dihydrogenmonoxyd perhaps make a course in chemistry. It would enlilght you about other "chemicals" which you likely might not want to have in your food, like antibiotica, arsen, random poisens, lead, mercury even iron or aluminium is dangerous etc. pe pe

Re:This is against current food movements. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787921)

There is no such thing as chemical free food, and mentioning it never fails to make people look dumb. "Chemical" free food, means free of ingredients which cannot be pronounced by miseducated hippies.

Re:This is against current food movements. (2)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#43787343)

"There is an ever growing movement of people who don't want to eat anything that has loose synthetic origin or contains any "chemicals"."

People use pod coffee machines because they are easy, don't waste coffee, produce better tasting coffee and the coffee is no more synthetic or loaded with chemicals than any other.

Re:This is against current food movements. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year ago | (#43787667)

Better tasting my foot. Its not bad, but its not the best coffee I've ever had.

Re:This is against current food movements. (1)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#43787919)

Richard Stallman, is that you?

Re:This is against current food movements. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43788299)

Had to look that one up. [wikipedia.org] "Pod coffee" sounds like something you'd drink to evade the body snatchers, appropriately enough.

Re:This is against current food movements. (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about a year ago | (#43787675)

I was about to post somthing like "Nice pod coffee machine you have there, shame if something happened to it." But really the reason that they are something I'd never buy, is that its totally dependant on the coffee pods being made by the manufacturer. I have a simple cafetiere and I can have whatever coffee I want, low maintainance, and I know I'll always be able to use it. Future proofing by going low tech..

Re:This is against current food movements. (1)

skegg (666571) | about a year ago | (#43788305)

Mate, you can get a machine for under a hundred bucks, and the capsules are around 70 U.S. cents (give or take).

In my opinion, pod coffee is good. (Not great ... but good. Certainly better than soluble coffee.)

And with the convenience of having a couple of coffees at home / the office for under 2 bucks a day, while I'd be ticked off if the manufacturer ceased making the capsules in a year or 2, I wouldn't be starting a class action lawsuit.

Re:This is against current food movements. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787445)

a lot more appealing, tasty and rewarding than tech like this ever could be.

How do you know that for a fact? How do you know that eventually, we won't be able to produce any texture you can think of? How do you know that eventually these printers won't be able to produce any taste you can think of? Plus, this could be an actual boost in food safety, since our food will not come from living organisms ...

Printers used to be dot-matrix printers. They can now print beautiful photos very cheaply.

Our screens started by displaying very crude monochromatic pictures. They can now display beautiful 3D pictures at resolutions that become closer with time to the resolution of our own eyes.

3D printers used to be very crude. They can now print at the nanoscale. They improve every day. Maybe we will be able to print anything in the future...

Re:This is against current food movements. (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | about a year ago | (#43787517)

To take the rooftop garden a bit further -

Build a concrete shell home, complete with garage and bury the thing under a mound or earth four the six feet thick. If 'natural' light is needed, install light pipes. Garden on the roof - easy! This has the added bonus of being more thermally stable, and is a lot more durable when it comes to thinks like tornadoes.

Are there problems with this design? Sure, but the technology to do this exists today.

Getting rid of excess heat is the biggest problem, but if most of the things that generate the large heat loads (water heaters end refrigerators are the biggest) could be put in a 'hot room' the rest of the house would have a better time of keeping cool. In hot areas, going underground even a small amount can provide significant cooling. The other big issue would be drainage, but again proper engineering would solve most of the problems. I do admit that the central US is basically a giant flood plain, so there are some issues to work out.

No More Food Waste? My Ass. (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43787187)

Food Oil Cartridge is too low to allow non-oil based printing. You must replace ALL cartridges to continue printing.

The printer has detected a refilled cartridge in it's carrier; system lock-out until brand new cartridge is inserted.

Re:No More Food Waste? My Ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787315)

PC LOAD LETTER

Re:No More Food Waste? My Ass. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787587)

that's PC LOAD LETTUCE you insensitive clod!!!

Re:No More Food Waste? My Ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787465)

Please note that we encourage you not to refill cartridges for your own personal health and safety. Refilled cartridges may not be clean and thus subject your food to contamination as per this report from Weyland-Yutani (*).

(*) - While the report is sponsored by P&G we are in no way related to Weyland-Yutani corporation.

Re:No More Food Waste? My Ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787697)

system lock-out until brand new $5000.00 cartridge is inserted. FTFY

Rendezvous with Rama (1)

janek78 (861508) | about a year ago | (#43787205)

I'm not a Star Trek fan but this always reminds me of A. C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. It is exciting to live in the future.

Nachos are the perfect printable food (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#43787207)

delicious and easy to print

Astronauts will be eating a lot of nachos on Mars.

You heard it here first.

Re:Nachos are the perfect printable food (2)

boristdog (133725) | about a year ago | (#43788015)

Nachos?

Depends on how much weed they can grow on Mars, I guess.

Come to think of it, a pop-tart is pretty ripe for printing like this as well.

12 billion people will use this daily? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787215)

I assume then that the world's population will be about 15 billion.

Preppers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787241)

It sounds like a good product for the Apocalypse preppers. For the rest of us, not so much.

Re:Preppers (1)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#43787955)

Apocalypse peppers?

Sounds interesting ... what's the Scoville value of them? 20 million? 40?

H2G2G (3, Funny)

dabadab (126782) | about a year ago | (#43787243)

OK, so who will be the first to post the phrase "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea"?

Oh, it was me.

Re:H2G2G (4, Funny)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43787321)

Taste Tester: It tastes...familiar.
Linda: Like beef?
Taste Tester: No...
Ted: Or chicken? We'll take chicken.
Taste Tester: No, it tastes like...despair?

From my cold, dead hands... (1)

fl!ptop (902193) | about a year ago | (#43787269)

He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3-D printer, and the earth's 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store

No flipping way. You'll have to pry my garden from my cold dead hands before I'm eating that shit.

starving kids in africa and cambodia... (4, Informative)

Sebastopol (189276) | about a year ago | (#43787283)

...don't care about palatable! i've seen children in cambodia eat bread crusts that are moldy, dirty, and soggy. quite sad, especially when 5U$D can buy enough bags of food to feed 30 kids for a day.

Re:starving kids in africa and cambodia... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787361)

maybe instead of sending food we should send birth control

wait that would actually solve the problem which nobody really wants to do as long as there is money to be made in prolonging it

Re:starving kids in africa and cambodia... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787615)

And the local religious nuts are convincing people that birth control causes AIDS.

Re:starving kids in africa and cambodia... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787759)

That doesn't actually work. People will tend to have enough children to ensure at least one survives with reasonable probability. Mistakes may happen more often without effective birth control, but the real problem is the death rate. Counterintuitively, lowering the death rate is the best way to reduce population.

Re:starving kids in africa and cambodia... (3, Interesting)

oic0 (1864384) | about a year ago | (#43787367)

if $5 could feed ME for a month I might actually have some money to donate :P

Re:starving kids in africa and cambodia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787589)

Quit lying to yourself motherfucker. Rice, beans, bread, that's food.

Doritos, McDonald's, Starbucks, that's not food.

Re:starving kids in africa and cambodia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43788243)

And for $5 you have the choice of rice, beans, or bread, but you don't get any vegetables or meat to go with that.

Re:starving kids in africa and cambodia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787439)

And, of course, the real problem with most hunger in Africa has more to do with poor governance than the world food supply.

PRINTER ON FIRE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787297)

Seriously! Your printer is on FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who is this for? (4, Interesting)

WillgasM (1646719) | about a year ago | (#43787305)

Other than astronauts and zombie bunkers, I don't see the appeal. We already pack strange synthetic food into cans that have more than enough shelf life for most occasions. I'd be willing to bet I'd prefer the taste and texture of said canned goods to whatever playdough this thing prints out. The only food that occasionally gets wasted around my house is fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat; none of which would really be replaced by this technology. If you find a way to print something more palatable that what I can already get from a can, then let me know.

Re:Who is this for? (1)

DrVomact (726065) | about a year ago | (#43787625)

Other than astronauts and zombie bunkers, I don't see the appeal. ...

I'm afraid the zombie bunker market is non-viable. Why buy an expensive food printer and cartridges when you can buy my recently published 101 Ways to Cook a Zombie for $90 at any reputable book store? Trust me, it's a bargain!

Re:Who is this for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787831)

Actually many of us are fans of homogenous glop like foods. It makes us feel like we live in space.

Living in the future (3, Insightful)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | about a year ago | (#43787307)

I already have something like this. I input basic food components (including powders and oil, as needed) in a ordered fashion (sometimes layer by layer), and after a short time, I extract a customized, nutritionally-appropriate meal.

It's called an "oven".

Done right, a nutritional plus. (1)

couchslug (175151) | about a year ago | (#43787327)

It's incredibly difficult and time-consuming to eat well.

If there is an efficient way to get ALL the nutrients required in a safe and economic way, that's a great idea for times when cooking for "fun" is too much hassle.

If I could be satiated and well-fed with a mouse-click that would give me more time to enjoy other things in life, and be better for my health too.

Re:Done right, a nutritional plus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787607)

It's incredibly difficult and time-consuming to eat well.

No, it's not. That's just a lazy cop-out used to justify a hopeless addition to junk food. Unless you live in an extremely cold and/or remote area, difficulty of eating healthy is pure BS. I think a good part of the problem is that most people don't like or don't recognize healthy, tasty, cheap food.

Re:Done right, a nutritional plus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787671)

It's called a "wife". I know the word is foreign around here....

Re:Done right, a nutritional plus. (1)

Smivs (1197859) | about a year ago | (#43787673)

It's incredibly difficult and time-consuming to eat well.

No it's not!

Right. (3, Interesting)

slapyslapslap (995769) | about a year ago | (#43787355)

Because today's food made from powder sucks because of the method of reconstitution, and not the fact that it was made into a fucking powder in the first place.

The body is not built for processed foods (1, Interesting)

mtippett (110279) | about a year ago | (#43787401)

Although it can be nutritionally appropriate, it may still not be good for the body. I am not a biologist, but I don't believe that the body is built for finely processed food. I am assuming that there is some research correlating highly processed/refined foods and the some of the common ailments in the western world.

A great example I have seen showing processed vs non-processed foods is to simply put the food in a bowl of water. A lot of processed food will within a matter of minutes puff up to a multiple of their size, and when stirred will simply break up into a liquid solution. Natural (unprocessed, even minimally processed) foods will generally stay together for a lot longer.

Give it a couple of centuries, and we'll see how the human gut and digestive system evolve. Oh wait, we'll have medical systems to prevent natural selection, so we're going to be co-dependently evolving with our technology.

Re:The body is not built for processed foods (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#43787655)

You are completely right, food like this would likely not contain any fibres. So digesting and moving it through your guts will be difficult, especially if your diet is based heavy on it.

What is wrong witha fresh salad? And how would you print that in such a machine?

Re:The body is not built for processed foods (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43788079)

Eat grass and this. Good to go.

I like cooking (1)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about a year ago | (#43787415)

This is probably really cool for a lot of the worlds people that may not have access to the technology required to preserve food.

But I like cooking. Its one of the last things that I do that is kind of not actively involved with technology. Of course technology is involved in every process of growing/producing food but theres something cool about taking a bunch of raw ingredients and using basic tools (cast iron, fire) to create delicious food. I don't want that to go away.

Re:I like cooking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787855)

But they'll have access to tissue reactors?

Don't worry, you'll still be cooking, now and in ten years. The ridiculous over hyping of 3D printing guarantees it. I don't know why we are focusing on the "3D printing" here, it's the miraculous nature of the oils and powders here that are the real story... And the 48 hour print times... And the fact that you still need heat to cook or bake things.

This is so delusional it's not funny.

We don't know enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787433)

We don't yet know enough about "food" to make this a reality. We discovered that food was made up of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. OK, settled. Um -- then we discovered trace elements/minerals, that are essential to health. OK, settled. Then we discovered (I may have this somewhat out of order) vitamins/micronutrients. Now we have phytonutrients. Next we'll have ...

Bottom line: "food" is chemically extremely complex. I don't believe we begin to know enough to make 3D printing a reality. Well, OK, we probably know enough to make it a reality. But not a healthy reality.

Soylent raises $100k in 2 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787505)

In related news, the Soylent Kickstarter campaign today raised over $100k in under 2 hours.

https://campaign.soylent.me/soylent-free-your-body

Oh good grief (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787531)

It's a paste that's squeezed through a tube with a nozzle. I better tell my neighborhood pastry chef he's using a 3 D printer. Can we PLEASE stop this overhyping of 3D printing? It's gotten to the point that "3D printing" is a meaningless phrase!

Here's another food 3D printer! [hisupplier.com]

Wow!

So sugar only lasts 30 years? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#43787593)

If food is stored air tight many of it can be stored "for ever".

Sugar, flour, salt, oils (olive oil e.g.) even meat in a can can be stored hundrets of years.

Heck, people dig out mammoth in siberia and eat them, those where "stored" there for 10,000 years.

The fear of rotten food in ur modern days is barely understandable ...

Absolutely disgusting. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year ago | (#43787597)

That's what that sounds like. Would I eat that stuff if the choice was that or starve? Yes. But I wouldn't choose it. Talk about the ultimate in processed food!

hewlett packard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787661)

cartridges will be so expensive, its cheaper to buy a new printer!

Complex geometry (2)

Guano_Jim (157555) | about a year ago | (#43787683)

The geometry of food has an effect on how we perceive taste, so it wouldn't shock me if chefs to specialize in molecular gastronomy started experimenting with novel structures once 3d food printers become commonplace.

A thousand quatloos to the first person to design creme bruleé shell with the texture of cotton candy, 3d printed in a popsicle form factor.

Soylent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787707)

Why a printer? I've been following this guy http://robrhinehart.com/?p=298 on HN for awhile. He is doing a similar thing but just mixing the chemicals himself with a scale and a blender. I supposed if you want to eat solids then a printer would help.

Food replicators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787737)

Does this mean that a Star Trek like food replicator is close at hand? Beam me up Scotty! :-)

CHON food. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787749)

This most resembles the Heechee Saga, which is a fun read by the way. Carbon Hydrogen Oxygen Nitrogen food synthesized from comet dribbles.

Connoisseurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787757)

Real connoisseurs use saffron cartridges to flavor their protein cubes.

Woman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787797)

Woman! Git bayack here an' print me a sayandwich!

Construction blocks (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43787815)

3D printers turns materials i,e, thermoplastic) into a shape. But you still need the base materials. We are far from CHON food [darwincentral.org] syntetizers. They must have some input, and better to be nutrient complete (and not what they think is nutrient complete, but what our body effectively needs). What it will use? Insects? [bbc.co.uk], Soylent [soylent.me] green ?

Anyway, just giving shape to something that you already have don't seem so big breakthrough. Just making a smoothie with them should be pretty similar.

Re:Construction blocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43788123)

Yes, but the 3D printing hype must flow! Geeks must honestly believe that they are part of a scientific and engineering breakthrough when they are playing with their fourteenth iteration of a plastic blob vaguely resembling a Star Wars character.

Why bother with eating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43788097)

Seriously. If one is going to go through the trouble of chemically seperating their food, why not just dump the chemicals directly into the bloodstream? Yes, people will have the feeling they want to eat food, but there are chemicals that stop that feeling. Diet pills are quite similar. As a bonus, if automatic waste extraction is added, that is pretty close to suspended animation for those long trips to Mars.

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