It may sound like something out a kitschy sci-fi movie, but is actually close to becoming reality with NASA's announcement that it is funding development of the world's first 3D food printer.
The brainchild of mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor, the new technology is being touted as a way to feed astronauts on years-long space missions and even "program" our foods to meet diet and allergy needs.
More importantly, though, it's being floated as a possible solution to world hunger.
“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” Contractor told online digital news site Quartz. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”
The company Contractor works for, Systems and Materials Research Corporation, has been awarded a six-month grant for $125,000 from NASA to fund development of the project.
The printer will use proteins, carbohydrates and sugars to create edible food products, spraying them on layer by layer much like the traditional 3D printing process.
One of the first prototypes will be a 3D pizza printer, which Contractor hopes to begin building in the next couple weeks.