Recently, NASA announced it had awarded a $125,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to Systems and Materials Research Consultancy, an Austin, TX based company, to study the feasibility of creating 3D printed foods for its astronauts. What sort of foods, you may or may not be wondering? 3D printed pizzas to start. [yum?] One of the key issues facing deep space exploration is the availability of foods which can sustain a long shelf life.
The idea behind the technology is that you’ll have cartridges of powders (carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients), which are combined in a mixing chamber on a per recipe basis, and blended with oil and water. “The system will start by ‘printing’ a sheet of dough, followed by a layer of tomato ‘sauce’.” As far as toppings, the pizza will be finished off with a layer of protein, which can be derived from animals, milk or plants.
In a nutshell, this is NASA’s interest in this phase I six-month study — “to determine the capability of this technology to enable nutrient stability and provide a variety of foods from shelf stable ingredients, while minimizing crew time and waste”.
Lucie Thomas teamed up with Thibault Zimmermann to form Zim&Zou, a french studio based in Nancy that explores different fields including paper sculpture, installation, graphic design, illustration. The duo studied graphic design during 3 years. Rather than composing images on a computer, they prefer creating real objects with paper and taking photos out of them. A number of intricate illustrations actually come from the three-dimensional installations made by Zim&Zou. Their choice of paper is due to the versatility and good quality of the material, especially when it is sculpted and photographed.
- 3D Printing: Food in Space (nasa.gov)
- Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! (npr.org)
- NASA Funds 3D Pizza Printer (space.com)