Astronauts who spend an appreciable amount of time in deep space, either on a lunar base or a mission to Mars, are going to have to find new ways to cook and eat dinner. With that problem is mind, a new company called Beehex has developed a 3D Printer that can make Pizza. While the project has raised the ire of some budget hawks in Congress, the 3D pizza printer has gone forward and may soon be ready for testing in space.

Currently, astronauts on the International Space Station eat prepackaged food that is rigorously designed for nutrition and ease of consumption in microgravity, which is heated up on site.

3D Printed food would involve storing the raw materials of various dishes, feeding them into a printer, and custom printing and cooking them. Pizza was chosen as one of the first foods to be created this way because, as it involved layers of crust, sauce, toppings, and cheese, it is most adapted to the technology. The printed pizza, which is described as ciabatta style, can be designed as to ingredients and even shape.

Beehex is already marketing its 3D pizza printer for venues on Earth. The “Chef 3D” would be installed at public places such as shopping malls, theme parks, and sports arenas.

No doubt, as the price continues to drop, home versions could be sold.

Whether and how soon 3D printed pizza gains acceptance depends on how fast the product can be created and how tasty the pizzas turn out to be. If the printing and cooking process takes more than a few minutes, printed pizza would not likely gain acceptance in public venues when time is of the essence. How printed pizza compares to one hand tossed and cooked by a chef or even a frozen version one can buy at the supermarket will also be a consideration.

Still, a food printer may become a standard appliance, first for space explorers, then for specialty eateries and then for the home, changing the way we deal with making dinner.

Now, if other dishes can be printed, say a well-seared steak, then we will know a real revolution is about to occur.

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