Star Trek’s food replicator is looking more science fact than science fiction, with the latest 3D printer. Back in August 2013, we reported that NASA was planning to send a 3D printer to the International Space Station in June. They also have their sights on manned missions to Mars. NASA teamed up with Systems & Materials Research Consultancy (SMRC) on a 3D printer that can produce… food, and more specifically, pizza. SMRC won a six-month, $125,000 Small Business Innovation Research Grant from NASA to explore the feasibility of utilizing 3D-printed food for lengthy space operations.

The Austin, Texas-based SMRC, which is led by senior mechanical engineer and founder Anjan Contractor, went off and created a 3D food printer that utilizes long-lasting powdered ingredients, individual vessels/containers (containing powder, water, oil) and heated plates (on the printer bed) to whip up a mini-pizza in 12 minutes. Contractor notes that additional micro-nutrients can be added.

Next steps include FDA sign-off on the process. If it all pans out, it’ll sure beat the freeze-dried stuff astronauts have been dining on for decades. And the implications could be even greater. Consider these words in a statement from SMRC: “By exploring and implementing technologies such as 3-D printing, this may avoid food shortage, inflation, starvation, famine, and even food wars.”

Source Star