If you ever find yourself in outer space and craving pizza, this food bot’s got your back. This new 3D printer born out of a NASA project can print out fresh pizzas in less than five minutes.
Since SpaceX plans to send two people to the moon late next year, and the colonization of Mars is likely to happen in the near future, we’re going to have to eat more than freeze-dried “space food” if we’re in space. Now, the startup BeeHex has raised $1 million in seed funding to launch Chef 3D printers, which use fresh dough and tomatoes to make pizzas.
In 2013, NASA awarded a $125,000 contract to Systems and Materials Research Consultancy of Austin to study how 3D printing can be used to make food. Current freeze-dried space food doesn’t meet the nutritional needs for astronauts if they go on a long mission to Mars, and refrigeration and freezing requires additional spacecraft resources.
NASA hoped that 3D printers would create nutritious food that can last long missions and allow crew members to personalize their food, rather than eating the same thing all the time. Although spacecrafts can’t store fresh tomatoes and dough for extended periods of time, they can store powder to be mixed into pizza ingredients — and a 3D printer could run with that powder to create an edible pizza.
Anjan Contractor, who was a senior mechanical engineer at Systems and Materials Research Consultancy, became one of the co-founders of BeeHex in 2015. Although this project was originally for outer space, BeeHex is adapting the printer for Earth, too. Soon, this robot might be competing with Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, or Domino’s, and we might see the printer at shopping malls, festivals, and amusement parks.
So far, it doesn’t seem like this printer can make deep dish yet, but you can personalize the thin-crust pizzas to be shaped like a heart, a company logo, or the United States of America. The system can even take any jpg file and convert it into a pizza in the shape of that picture.
Once you pick what kind of pizza you want, a nozzle will squeeze the dough into the shape you want. Next, separate nozzles will add the sauce and the cheese, and finally, the pizza is popped into the oven. In less than five minutes, your pizza will be ready to eat.
Cleaning these nozzles seems difficult, but this 3D printer automatically self-cleans. Right now, it’s still waiting for National Sanitation Foundation certification.
BeeHex hopes that in the near future, customers can order the food they want to print through an app and choose the pizza size, dough, sauce, and cheese. Once the pizza is ready, customers will receive a notification.
The Chef 3D will make its next public debut at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas from March 27 to 30.