Solving world hunger, the obesity epidemic, and longterm space travel menu issues are in the near future, thanks to Chloe Rutzerveld, an Eindhoven University of Technology graduate who studied Industrial Design, and has since moved on to Edible Growth, a food design concept on par with NASA research.

Edible Growth uses 3D printing technology to develop sustainable nutritious food for the future. Currently, 3D printing has not moved beyond chocolates and other simple sugars, but Rutzerveld is developing a nutritious, protein-rich dough that has the potential for printing in the next 8-10 years.

A personalized file builds multiple layers of lupine dough with yeasts, fungi spores, and seeds. A gelatinous agar-agar is used to sprout the seeds, which happens within days of printing. As the snack ages, the intensity of taste and smell increases, due to fermentation, much like our favorite stinky blue cheeses, or kimchi.

The shape of the snack also changes with time, as sprouts and mushrooms organically emerge from the dough structure as they grow. This gives the consumer a choice of when to eat their snack, based on personal flavor preferences.

Rutzerveld is also searching for alternative sources of proteins, and she is currently using lupine– a wheat-like a grain that is heavier in protein. She has also attempted to 3D print insect protein. However, 3D printing technology is still a messy and difficult process, as structures made from these beneficial materials have so far failed to hold up in the lab.

NASA is reportedly facing similar difficulties in their experiments with 3D printing food meant for longterm space travel. Perhaps Edible Growth or Rutzerveld’s research could potentially be used for astronaut nutrition while attempting man-led expeditions to Mars or Jupiter.

The potential range of affects with 3D printing food is huge, influencing supply chains, eating habits, preparation methods and the ability to introduce entirely new foods to the market. “By 3D printing food you can make the production chain very short, the transport will be less, there is less land needed,” says Rutzerveld, about the impact Edible Growth has on the food industry. “With Edible Growth a lot of unnecessary stages of the food chain will disappear with a reduction of food waste, food miles, and CO2 emission.” Know more.