Project Description

3D Printed Food

Complete meals and nutrition for long duration space missions

Future long duration space missions beyond low Earth orbit have unique challenges for food quality, variety, and nutrient stability. Current astronaut nutrition is exclusively meal-ready-to-eat (MRE) pouches, which do not provide flavor and texture variety or long term nutrient stability. There exists a need for a new food technology system that provides interesting flavors and recipes while including nutrient supplements to offset nutritional degradation from long term storage.

SMRC’s 3D printed food system will provide nutritious food choices in a variety of forms and flavors. In a Mars mission, this system is to be used in conjunction with bulk foods, prepackaged foods, and hydroponically grown foods. Potentially, hundreds of recipes are available, utilizing raw ingredient food stocks. An additional value added product of this system is the possibility of therapeutic diets. The probability that one or more astronauts will be injured or fall ill is high. Special therapeutic diets can be programmed at NASA headquarters and transmitted to the spacecraft. SMRC’s food dispensing system will be an adaptable food supply for individual tastes and nutrition needs.

SMRC has developed a 3D printed food system capable of dispensing viscous food made from powder and liquid ingredients. Cheese pizza has been the first demonstrated meal from SMRC’s 3D food printer. Pizza dough is dispensed onto a hot plate where it is cooked, followed by a tomato layer and cheese topping. Future developments of the 3D printer will include an oven for cooking the food. Nutrient addition to meals is a future add-on to the 3D printed food system. 

  • SMRC’s 3D printed food system will provide healthy nutrition for astronauts

  • With component ingredients mixed and printed on demand, there are virtually thousands of recipes available

  • Long shelf life of dry ingredients, liquid ingredients, and nutrients will provide a viable food system for beyond earth space missions

  • SMRC’s 3D printed food system will provide appetizing, textural food that surpasses current MRE variety and taste

SMRC Point of Contact:

Dr. David Irvin
Director of Research
(512) 535-7791 ext 109

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