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  1. #1
    Sagan's Avatar Carl Sagan
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    NASA funds design for a food replicator

    By Christopher Mims


    Anjan Contractor’s 3D food printer might evoke visions of the “replicator” popularized in Star Trek, from which Captain Picard was constantly interrupting himself to order tea. And indeed Contractor’s company, 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 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D 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.

    Ubiquitous food synthesizers would also create new ways of producing the basic calories on which we all rely. Since a powder is a powder, the inputs could be anything that contain the right organic molecules. We already know that eating meat is environmentally unsustainable, so why not get all our protein from insects?

    If eating something spat out by the same kind of 3D printers that are currently being used to make everything from jet engine parts to fine art doesn’t sound too appetizing, that’s only because you can currently afford the good stuff, says Contractor. That might not be the case once the world’s population reaches its peak size, probably sometime near the end of this century.

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    http://qz.com/86685/the-audacious-pl...-printed-food/
    http://youtu.be/zSgiXGELjbc

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  2. #2
    kc1895's Avatar KFC Hipster
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    Quote Sagan View Post

    Anjan Contractor’s 3D food printer might evoke visions of the “replicator” popularized in Star Trek, from which Captain Picard was constantly interrupting himself to order tea.
    Star Trek was the first thing I thought of when I saw this thread. It seems though that the replicator can only replicate foods that contain unperishable ingredients. I'm sure it can be popular with pastries like bread, cake, and cookies that can be made with flour, oil, and some rendition of eggs that won't spoil.

  3. #3
    Otherside's Avatar
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    Egg powder? Never tried it, but I've seen it around. They could possibly use that.
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  4. #4
    WineKitty's Avatar
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    I was surprised at the dollar amount. That really isn't a whole lot to build a Star Trekian-style replicator is it?
    "You can never really know a person and if you think you can, you're living in a fucking dream world!" David Fisher, Six Feet Under

  5. #5
    shyVr6's Avatar Masking The Calm
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    I just keep thinking to maybe 50 or 100 years from now when people will look back at that thing and laugh at how prehistoric it is even though it's pretty awesome now.

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