U. S. Department of Defense begins work on 3D food printing

The food replicator from the old ‘Star Trek’ television show is poised to become a reality for the military and for households. Mary Scerra, food technologist at the U. S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts says that a portable three-dimensional food printer should be available to the U. S. Army by 2025 or 2030. The developments that led to this new device were detailed at the July 12, 2015, session of the Institute of Food Technologists in Chicago.

Three-dimensional printers cost about $1,000 now. The expectations are that price will decrease to a level that is affordable to most people within five years. At the same time, the ability to print different substances with a three-dimensional printer has increased. Functional body parts, composites, and machine parts are presently a short list of what three-dimensional printers can produce.

The printing of food that is not only made to order but tastes good will soon be a functional reality. PepsiCo has already produced plastic templates for potato chips. The major hurdle that three-dimensional printers have to overcome to produce food is speed. Printing organic material from chemical components has already been done.

The researchers envision a system that would allow a soldier to insert a program disc into a printer interface and produce a hot meal in a few minutes. Similarly, the same technology could do away with cooking in favor of printed food. One could imagine a kitchen in the near future that has no appliance except a printer.

Most of the unbelievable technology from ‘Star Trek’ has become a functioning reality. The food replicator is just a few decades away. The technology exists today to produce a voice recognition interface for a three-dimensional printer that would allow people to order a meal just by asking the printer for the food they want. Fast food companies may adopt printers in favor of machines and people.

This article is reposted with the author’s permission from examiner.com.


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