This summer we heard about a 3-D printer for food developed with NASA funding, but we didn’t have much to look at in the way of a prototype. Now, lo and behold, the printer has shown up at SXSW Eco, and we caught a short demonstration from the makers, a group from Systems and Materials Research Corporation. The printer served up a pie, made with dough, ketchup and cream cheese (?).
The printer is still in its earliest stages, so the creators haven’t quite perfected the process. Instead of making a classic slice, they’re showing off the proper levels of pizza viscosity with similar ingredients: ketchup for sauce, cream cheese for a fine ricotta. The idea’s more or less the same, though: the printer lays down a layer of dough from a stock of simple, non-perishable ingredients, then layers the sauce (ketchup) and cheese (cream cheese) on top. A heated surface bakes the pizza.
You can see why NASA would be interested in the idea: send up a printer instead of boxes of food, and you save space—plus you give the astronauts a home-cooked meal. Also: it’s fun to watch. Here you can see the printer laying down the cheese layer, and one of the printer technicians being directed to add more pressure. Yum.