A layman can’t begin to imagine how limited an astronaut’s menu is. Once the poor fellow begins duty, it is mostly freeze-dried ice cream that he must put up with for the most part. It’s no surprise; therefore, that NASA decided to grant $125,000 to a Texas-based mechanical engineer, Anjan Contractor to add significantly to this limited menu. Contractor took on the challenge to build such a 3D printer that would print pizzas. In less than a year of his constant endeavours, Contractor seems to have produced results.
Here’s a very brief walkthrough of the entire pizza-making process. The 3D printer prints a single layer of dough which is cooked and printed, simultaneously. Tomato sauce is prepared with a mixture of tomato powder in oil and water. This is then added on to the undistinguished protein layer at the top.
An open-source RepRap Mendel 3D printer proved vital in achieving this feat. Food building blocks in replaceable powder cartridges, with useful life of 30 years, were made use of in the creation of cheese, crust and a make-shift protein layer on the pizza. The printer had the ability to lay out fats, proteins, starch, smell and texture in good detail.
Contractor is confident that the pizza will taste delicious but we might need volunteers to verify that. Who is up for the task?