Free-range? Grass-fed? How about 3D-printed next to the Nespresso on your kitchen island? That could be the beef of the future, friends. And two German design students have ginned up the latest plans for a slick-looking machine that could make it.
Sarah Mautsch and Aaron Abentheuer, students at Germany’s University of Applied Sciences Schwäbisch Gmünd, came up with the concept, which joins other makers of fake animals, like Beyond Meat and Modern Meadow. It’s called the Cultivator, and it’s a bioprinter. Scientists are already toying with bioprinting to create human organs–but the designers envision the Cultivator being open source, running on solar power, and having a user interface as friendly as an iPad. The idea is to imagine a device that makes churning out chicken cutlets on your countertop seem slightly less strange.
Edible, synthetic creatures don’t sound tasty–or cheap–at this point, but that’s not stopping researchers from developing these technologies further. After all, the need for it is enormous, considering the livestock industry accounts for almost 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention the issue of how humanely those animals are sometimes treated. The Cultivator is just a conceptual prototype that’s meant to start discussion: Mautsch told Dezeen that as more parties get involved with this technology, it might get cheaper and more accessible to average consumers.