The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has issued a Small Business Innovation Research opportunity inviting proposals for a new edible 3D printing material. Dubbed the Innovative Nutritional Formulations SBIR Program, the concept call aims to attract clever ideas for turning biomass into safe and edible food products. The Agency has stated that the cellular biomass formulations must be compatible with at least one type of 3D printing technology, and can be in the form of a liquid, solid, powder, paste, or ink. DARPA’s two-year Innovative Nutritional Formulations program will feature a number of readiness tests to assess all of the biomass-based 3D printing formulations before a winner is chosen. The printed food will, of course, be evaluated for its safety and taste, although these will be done via chemical analysis methods rather than an actual taste test. In a similar initiative announced earlier this year, DARPA awarded GE Research, the R&D wing of American conglomerate GE, $14.3 million to transform the transport of potable water to troops in the field through a 3D printed device that literally produces it out of thin air. With similar goals in mind, the Defense Logistics Agency also recently awarded binder jet 3D printer OEM ExOne a $1.6M contract to develop a portable 3D printing factory for the U.S. Department of Defense.
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