Is it possible to use 3D printing to help end world hunger?

  1. Hey guys, I have been reading some articles recently and I have came acrossed an article that the SMRC (Systems and Materials Research Corporation)(with its support from NASA) has a grant that supports its project in creating 3D editable food (pizza) using 3D printing (apprently one of the hottest topics in technology).

    After I read on how it's possible to print out food using 3D printing, I instantly asked myself if this is the solution to ending world hunger, that is it possible to create small food structures made up of simple componants like proteins and carbohydrates to mass produce small, cheap, and editable food blocks that can feed people in poverty.

    I then went on google and found out that I wasn't the only one who thought of it. I found a ton of articles about people saying on how this can actually end world hunger if this idea was produced even more. There were many websites and articles that explained the potential of mass producing food blocks that can be fed to the people who needs it.


    I am curious, I would like to ask the opinions of all of you, from the professional engineers (or engineering student) how possible is it to use 3D printing to print simple food blocks that can feed a good sized population group and contribute to the end of world hunger? Is there something that will hold this back, like any flaws?

    http://www.dogonews.com/2013/5/27/will-3-d-printers-be-the-key-to-ending-world-hunger
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Simon Bridge

    Simon Bridge 14,913
    Science Advisor
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    Gold Member

    You've still got to get the raw components and the printers to the people who need it in a manner which is more cost/resource efficient than actual farming. Consider - a steak or a potato is more than a lump of molecules.

    I think it is still in the SF "food vat" area right now.

    The main technical thing to overcome is pretty much the main thing in rapid prototyping ... how to change, consistently, between materials. For printing something as complex as foodstuffs the problem is much harder than for, say, printing circuits.


    Note: 3D printing can help by providing simple manufacture of components from local(ish) raw materials.
    I don't think many 3D printing researchers are thinking along these lines ... one project I know of, where ease of access is a major design principle, is the Rep-Rap. It's still a long way from it's goals.
     
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