Portuguese artist Susana Soares thinks about 3D printing, a lot.
Her ongoing project, Insects Au Gratin, is an examination of what keeps us all from eating bugs.
Soares came up with what she thinks might be the answer last year: using 3D printers to output edible structures out of delicious dried bug powder.
A native of Lisbon, Portugal, Soares wasn't content to stop at rehabilitating the reputation of bugs and cuisine. Now the artist is engaged in exploring the design implications of current technology and the latest scientific research.
Based in London where she's a Senior Lecturer at London South Bank University, Soares has also turned to trying to understand not just how we eat, but the vessels we use to hold the things we eat. Her complex pieces of pottery are an attempt to bring beauty to the process of eating, and they're made out of bug powder as well.
"One of the aspects that deters people from eating insects not only has to do with cultural background, but also with the aesthetics of the dishes themselves," Soares says.
So if you're not necessarily inclined to snack on something that looks like a bug, it's her theory that you might well snack on something beautiful, something beautiful which just happens to be made from bugs.
According to Soares, while you might have certain reservations about munching on bugs, from a nutritional standpoint, they're fairly attractive for their nutritional value. Food from bugs requires fewer resources to produce than our standard fare, and since bugs can make vegetation into protein, 220 pounds of bug feed produces 88 pounds of, well, "cricket meat." As such, they're very efficient little sources of food. Considering that the same amount of food shoveled into a cow only produces about 22 pounds of beef, you have at least some justification for your next insect meal.
You can also eat the bowl, so factor in the savings in paper plates and dishware as well.
While you're not likely to find the artist's creations on the menu at your local bistro, Soares' work has been published by a variety of design and scientific magazines, and her creations have been exhibited at the MoMA in New York, MOMAK in Kyoto, the Science Gallery in Dublin and The Royal Institution in London.