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NASA bets 3D-printed food can make you eat bugs

Credit: File Photo

NASA is betting the 3D tech now printing custom plastic tschotske could be turned towards building burritos, pizza, and other delicious meals from unexpected sources, but will you bite?

There is a small but growing 3D maker community right here in the greater Boston area (I reported on a meetup earlier this month), but the local focus is mainly on designers and high-end hobbyists who don’t mind spending $75 in goop for a $3 chess set, in exchange for tweaking the pawns to their heart’s desire.

But many are still looking for the killer app that moves 3D printing from the realm of professionals to desktops everywhere. And now the folks who gave us astronaut ice cream think they might have found another edible endeavor worth pursuing.

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Quartz has reported on the contract between NASA and Systems & Materials Research Corporation to build a prototype “universal food synthesizer.” It’s a relatively small contract, particularly by NASA standards: Just six months and $125,000.

But what comes next could be very interesting: Anjan Contractor, the founder of Systems & Materials Research Corporation, told Quartz that he is already working on a 3D pizza printer which builds upon his earlier work of a chocolate printer:

But by mixing software and the culinary arts, there are a lot of other potential benefits down the road: Recipes designed to fit your dietary needs while tasting delicious, for example, or meals made to make some uncommon ingredients a little more palatable for local tastes.

For example, Quartz took at some research from a Dutch think tank that hypothesized ground up and remixed elements from algae, duckweed, grass, lupine seeds, beet leafs, and insects. As a connoisseur of crickets, mealworms, burritos, and pizza, all I can say is this future is very exciting.

Here’s a video from the Dutch think tank, TNOResearch, that shows how the process works in a little more detail:

What do you think? Bugs for lunch? Is Snackster the next Napster? Let us know on Twitter at @HiveBoston, via email at Hive@Boston.com, and follow me on Twitter at@Morisy.

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