One of the most inspiring news events of the year has being Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s postings and video clips online. By sharing his experience in the International Space Station, Commander Hadfield may well have inspired the next generation of innovators, possibly young food scientists amongst them.
Food for the Final Frontier
The next time Commander Chris Hadfield undertakes a space mission his lunch box may contain ‘3D Printed’ food. NASA recently announced they are working with Texan company, Systems and Materials Research Consultancy on a study to develop a 3D printed food system for long duration space missions. If successful this technology could enable manufacturers (or indeed consumers) to create food to meet their requirements. However, other industries are already investing in capability. For instance GE Global Research established a new additive manufacturing lab in 2011 and claim “one day we will print an engine”. Whether it is NASA’s need to develop a new system to deliver nutritious food to long-haul astronauts or the manufacturing sectors need to secure competitive edge in their market, technological developments play a key role in innovation.
I Love the Consumer
The consumer is at the heart of innovation. It’s not just industrial users who are experimenting with the potential of 3D Printing. Cornell University began the Fab@Home project in 2006 aimed at developing personal fabrication devices and have delivered research papers on printed food. Of course what we don’t know yet is how the consumer will re-act to the idea of ‘printed food’ or if the 3d food printer can become a standard kitchen utensil.
What is clear is that the demand for innovation is insatiable. Inspirational stories are out there, technological development will deliver new and unforeseen solutions, with consumer insight being the real final frontier.