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Anjan Contractor (born December 2, 1979) is an American entrepreneur, inventor, mechanical engineer, philanthropist, and business executive. He is most well known for winning a NASA grant for building a 3D printer that successfully printed edible pizza. His company, BeeHex, Inc., commercializes 3D printing.
Early life and education[edit | hide all | hide | edit source]
He graduated from Sharda Mandir High School and became interested in futuristic technology, especially food printing, from watching Star Trek. He earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and master’s degree in materials science and engineering at The Ohio State University. In 2013, he earned his MBA from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.
Career[edit | hide | edit source]
Contractor developed multiple prototypes of 3D printers throughout the late 2000s to print edible food, clothing, and complex shapes. His first start-up, iSpire, developed technology that harnessed energy from the weight of vehicles on roadways to power traffic lights and billboards. Contractor worked as a senior engineer and project manager at Systems and Materials Research Corporation, in Austin, Texas, to reconstitute dehydrated food ingredients to produce the inputs for 3D-printed pizza. In 2012, Contractor successfully printed chocolate on to a flat cookie. In 2013, Contractor’s 3D pizza printer prototype earned Systems and Materials Research Corporation a $125,000 grant from NASA, under its Small Business Innovation Research program for satisfying the requirements for a system that can print food for astronauts on very long space missions. Contractor also developed polymers, thermoplastics, and polyurethane materials to make durable, non-corrosive shapes using 3D printers.
In 2015, Contractor competed in the Food Lab Challenge at the University of Texas, where he deployed a multi-ingredient, dry-food 3D printer that can Contractor said that the printer can “print any three ingredients, so you can name anything – sushi or pasta or cinnamon rolls.”
In 2015, Contractor stated his intent for a universal food synthesizer in the form of a 3D printer in every household, with the ability to print healthy meals from powders, with a shelf-life of at least fifteen years.
In 2016, Contractor founded BeeHex, Inc. 3D printing to commercialize 3D food printing and other applications of 3D printer technology. BeeHex demonstrated 3D pizza printing with pizza in the shape of the United States at South by Southwest.
Engineers without Borders[edit | hide | edit source]
In 2015, Contractor pioneered the Makers for Engineers without Borders movement, under the Engineers without Borders umbrella. Contractor was a frequent speaker at Maker Faire Rome in 2015, to advocate for a maker community as part of Engineers Without Borders to use computer-aided manufacturing to solve world-scale problems.