Food printers could be used on several occasions. They could for instance improve your kitchen, help astronauts to provide for better meals, and they might as well be useful for soldiers. So thinks the US Army. Their department Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is currently investigating how food printing could help the military world. Researchers think the technique could help to eliminate food waste and reduce costs, to make it easier to create personalized meals and even to improve a soldier’s health.
NSRDEC representatives recently met with researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and talked about how food printing could be used in the military world. Mary Scerra, a food technologist at NSRDEC thinks there will be a financial benefit: “It could reduce costs because it could eventually be used to print food on demand. For example, you would like a sandwich, where I would like ravioli. You would print what you want and eliminate wasted food.”
The army might use food printers on the battlefield to create the right meals at the right time. They could also use the technology to provide for rations. Another advantage is that the army will be able to create entirely personalized meals. Soldiers need certain nutrients to give them the energy needed to do their work. Using food printers, it’s much easier to provide for the perfect meals with the right amount of minerals and vitamins. Lauren Oleksyk, NSRDEC’s food technologist said: “If you are lacking in a nutrient, you could add that nutrient. If you were lacking protein, you could add meat to a pizza.”
In other words: personalized meals could become reality for soldiers in the future. They would like to give their soldiers compact 3D printers, so they could print out meals on demand. As for today, a couple of interesting food printers are on the radar. One of them is the Foodini by Natural Machines. This company is working on a 3D printer that can produce anything made of dough, paste or stiff liquid, such as all pastas and breads. This machine will cost about 1000 euros and it’s the companies purpose to create a 3D printer that will produce highly delicious food.
And then there’s 3D Systems, which has announced two food printers for the end of 2014: the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro. Both printers are capable of printing out sweets. In addition, they can as well be printed in any desired shape, which enabled 3D Systems to print out origami-shaped sweets. The company is now working together with candy giant Hersheys in order to bring 3D printed sweets to the masses.
Image: 3D printed spaghetti, by Natural Machines.