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The US Army wants to 3d-print customized food for soldiers

The military wants to customize nutrition for each soldier in the next few decades, and its betting on 3-d printers to do it.

Food could be printed with the exact requirement a warfighter needs, says Lauren Oleksyk, a food technologist at the US Armys Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center. Oleksyk and her fellow Natick researchers are in the early stages of a concept that could deliver food tailored for each soldier, possibly debuting on the battlefield within the next 10 to 15 years.

By 2025, soldiers will likely be wearing a device to measure their physiological or nutritional status. The wearable may be inside the experimentalIron Man suitor something else, but the idea is that it would send personal data back about the soldier.

Once the data reaches back to a base camp or field kitchen, it might show a soldier hasnt eaten enough protein today, or that theyve been awake for quite a while and could use some extra caffeine. This is where the 3-d printer works its magic.

Unlike the Armys ready-to-eat meals, a 3-d printer could create a chocolate bar or drink powder designed to help each individual soldier perform at their best. A muscular soldier, for example, probably has different caloric requirements than a skinny one.

With todays 3-d printers, something simple like a protein bar with peanut butter filling covered in chocolate can be made in about 30 minutes. But Oleksyk wouldnt be surprised if the time it takes comes down substantially, as the technology continues to improve.

Its exponential how much faster printers are getting year over year, she said.

Natick is still early in its research, but it has printed some basic food components. And the organization isnt alone in using the futuristic printers for food. Others havebeen able to make everythingfrom candies and dog treats to cake toppers.

But will they ever be able to print more complex items like pizza?

The answer is definitely yes. Dough, sauce, and cheese are all very easy to print, Oleksyk said.

Each component of pizza is fairly printable.

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The US Army wants to 3d-print customized food for soldiers

The US Army wants to 3d-print customized food for soldiers

The military wants to customize nutrition for…

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