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The Army Wants to Use 3D Printers to Customize Soldiers’ Diets

Beats the heck out of MREs.

3D food printer
3D food printer
US Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center

U.S. soldiers could one day subsist on customized nutritional meals hot off the 3D printer. Researchers at the Army's Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center in Natick, Mass. are working on methods of syncing wearable technology with 3D printing to provide soldiers the exact nutritional sustenance they need while deployed, according to Tech Insider.

These foods won't be your average Army MREs (that's "meals, ready-to-eat") either. Within the next 10 to 15 years, soldiers could reportedly be outfitted with wearable tech that measures individual physiology and can relay that data to a system that will assess what a soldier needs to eat.

For example, if a soldier is running on little sleep, the technology may determine a need for caffeine. The 3D printing system could then create a product to cater to that soldier's needs, be it a protein bar or powder, taking into account the soldier's baseline physiology and caloric intake. Researchers are working to improve the speed of printing and even the complexity of the food itself (yes, pizza could one day be 3D-printed for soldiers) as they develop the customizable meal technology.

Though this project is in its early stages, the concept of 3D-printed food is off and running elsewhere in the world — albeit for some decidedly less practical purposes. A pop-up featuring exclusively 3D-printed food appeared in London last year, and a start-up in Germany recently began making marzipan boats.