Three-dimensional printing is changing the way the Army treats injuries and builds bombs, and now the technology is poised to revolutionize how soldiers are fed. 3D printing will allow the Army to print food on demand, from pasta to pizza, and tailor its nutritional content to an individual soldier’s needs.
Feeding thousands of soldiers in the wilderness of a far-flung battlefield has never been an easy task. The food served to Army personnel needs to be unspoiled, nutritious, and reasonably tasty. For decades, soldiers have dined on Army-supplied Meals, Ready to Eat, but MREs are usually pretty unappetizing and limited to 24 options like “beef taco filling” served in a tinfoil bag. You couldn’t even get a pizza until last year when Army researchers developed a groundbreaking pizza that stays fresh for three years.
rmy scientists have spent decades concocting meals that last without refrigeration and survive high-altitude airdrops. And now, the Army is eyeing a new form of cooking: 3D printing! Yes, food that comes fresh out of a printer, for our troops.
Lauren Oleksyk, a food technologist leading the team at the Army's Natick Research Center, lays out the vision.
Imagine soldiers who are strapped, head to toe, with sensors - sensors that measure if they're high or low in potassium or cholesterol.
"We envision to have a 3D printer that is interfaced with the soldier. And that sensor can deliver information to the computer software," Oleksyk says. "And they would be able to have either powdered or liquid matrices that are very nutrient dense, that they have on demand that they can take quickly, immediately to fill that need."
3D printed food for the elderly may hit shelves in 2016