A mechanical engineer by the name of Anjan Contractor has built a prototype of a contraption that’s arguably the ultimate molecular gastronomy tool: a "universal food synthesizer" that builds food using a 3-D printer, and Quartz is reporting that NASA has just given him a $125,000 grant.
Contractor’s goal is to get one of these printers in every kitchen in the world. He foresees a day when we prepare our meals by feeding nutrient-rich powders made from algae, grass, or even insects into the contraption, which then builds "meal cubes" one layer at a time that are perfectly calibrated to our nutritional needs.
While restaurants most likely won’t be rushing out to purchase these printers any time soon, there’s the very real possibility that astronauts on very long missions to, say, Mars, will make very good use of a device like this, and because they can be intricately calibrated, each astronaut will get exactly the right nutrition they need. Contractor also believes that the food created by these printers could make its way to poorer countries, assuring that everyone gets just the right amount of nutrients.
Food like this is still a long way off, but it’s interesting to think of the possibilities a 3-D food printer could bring.