The love affair between the American government and 3D printing has already been well documented. The first annual White House Maker Faire that took place last month was just the latest example of this phenomenon in action. One only needs to look at NASA’s long standing interest in additive manufacturing’s potential to deliver longer missions that go deeper into space, to see how seriously America”s state run institutions are taking the technology.
Now, it is the turn of the American military to make positive noises about additive manufacturing. Taking the cue from NASA’s collaborative project with Texan 3D firm Systems and Materials Research to develop a healthy, tasty printable pizza, army researchers are investigating the possibility of 3D printing food for its soldiers.
According to Lauren Olesksyk of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Centre (NSRDEC), the hope is that by 3D printing army rations, costs can be massively reduced as all food will be made on demand. Olesksyk and her team are working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory in the process.
As she explains:
We have a online casino three year shelf life requirement for the MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). We’re interested in maybe printing food that is tailored to a soldier’s nutritional needs and then applying another novel process to render it shelf stable, if needed.
Like NASA’s project, the team are looking to print from food using cartridges of various ingredients that can be deposited to create full dishes. The method allows you to customise the precise nutritional needs of the soldier, ensuring both healthy eating and an environmentally sound cooking process.
If you are lacking in a nutrient, you could add that nutrient. If you were lacking protein, you could add meat to a pizza. Another potential application may be 3D printing a pizza, baking it, packaging it and putting it in a ration.