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The US Army Wants to Use 3D Printers to Customize Military Meals

by • February 2, 2016 • No Comments

MRE #23 - Chicken Breast filled with rib meat meal comes with Chicken breast, pineapple pound cake, wheat snack bread, Tabasco sauce, sugar, Pretzels, peanut butter as well as a spoon, napkins and other non-food items.

MRE #23 – Chicken Breast filled with rib meat meal comes with chicken breast, pineapple pound cake, wheat snack bread, Tabasco sauce, sugar, pretzels, peanut butter as well as a spoon, napkins and other non-food items.

The MRE, or Meal, Ready-to-Eat, is a field ration packaging in an individual, self-contained serving that was created by the US military to provide nutritious meals to service participants while in combat or in other situations where organized food preparation is not possible. Whilst the MRE as the military aleager knows it became standard issue back in 1986, the history of transportable food for soldiers dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Those initially military rations consisted primarily of beef, peas or rice, portioned out to soldiers daily. By the time the Civil War came around the military started issuing canned foods that were less perishable, a few day issued self-contained food kits. By World War I the military replaced canned meats with salted or dried meats to reduce mass and allow soldiers to carry extra
rations with them.

The obvious analytic thinking behind developing field rations is to maintain the health and durablity of military personnel, but the US Army rapidly learned that providing basic nutrition just wasn’t adequate. During World War II the military added multiple varieties of field rations tailored to the requires of soldiers in specific environments, like a jungle ration or a mountain ration. By the time the initially MREs were issued there was a menu of twelve various meals on the market, that rapidly expanded to over twenty four in use at the present time, which include vegetarian options. The military is constantly researching and growing MRE options in order to manufacture certain that they are providing soldiers with meals that can be completely consumed and are sizeable adequate to satisfy them completely.

Current food 3D printing innovation.

Current food 3D printing innovation.

So what precisely can the military assume the upcoming MRE to appear like? If researchers of the Army’s Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) in Natick, Massachusetts have anything to say of it they can be 3D printed meals that have been customized for each soldier. NSRDEC researchers are in the early development stage of new MRE concepts that may alter the way the military eats meals. By combining wearable innovation capable of measuring a soldier’s individual physiology with food 3D printing equipment, upcoming MREs can be instantly produced meals that have been tailored for the specific nutritional requires of each soldier. Whilst the new MRE is yet a few years out, the innovation may be eager for deployment as early as 2025.

Hyrel 3D printing device can be converted to print with approximately anything, which include paste and food materials.

Hyrel 3D printing device can be converted to print with approximately anything, which include paste and food materials.

It is assumeed that inside the upcoming decade each soldier can be outfitted with wearable devices that monitor and meacertain their physiology, as well as their nutritional requires. The collected data can be recorded and at designated times transferred back to base camp or to a rapidly set up field kitchen outfitted with several food 3D printing equipment. Software may examine the collected data and determine if the soldier is in require of any specific vitamins or nutrients and include them in the meal that can be 3D printed specifically for them. Meals may take any form on the market based on the pre-existing ingredients that are on the market and the nutritional values can be altered instantly.

If a soldier has been awake for an extended period of time and so the meal may include a few extra
caffeine, or foods that promote awareness and may assist fight fatigue. If the soldier is low on protein and so the meal may add extra nutrients to assist supplement the loss. With a food 3D printing device the limits on what form the foods can take are virtually non-existent. Entire meals may be 3D printed as full meals, transportable chocolate protein bars or actually as liquid meals that can be consumed rapidly and taken into the field. Because a tall, muscular soldier may require extra
food than a short or thin soldier, the 3D printing device may in addition determine precisely how much food the soldier requires to maintain optimal health and performance. It may actually be programmed to 3D print their meal as a pizza.

3D printed pizza is possible via at the present time’s innovation.

3D printed pizza is possible via at the present time’s innovation.

Current food 3D printing innovation is yet a ways off of being modified
for use by the military, as the types of food textures and ingredients on the market are yet limited. Currently food products like a peanut butter filled protein bar covered in chocolate can be 3D printed in of a half an hour, yet the innovation is yet incredibly new and it can become quicker. If there is anything that can be said of the 3D printing industry definitively, it’s that the development of the innovation moves incredibly swift. Eventually an entire meal may be 3D printed in a matter of minutes, and hopefully for our soldiers it can be worth the wait. Is this a meal you’d like to try one day? Tell us in the 3D Printed Customized Soldier Meals forum over at 3DPB.com.