Thesis: 3-D printing could solve food shortages and malnutrition across the world.
The cost of a 3-D printer ranges from less than a thousand dollars all the way to near one million dollars. While this obviously represents a huge disparity in cost, I believe it is possible that these machines could be mass produced, driving down costs and enabling families to own these incredible machines. As these machines become more advanced and the costs of manufacturing them decreases, the applications for 3-D printers could reach new levels.
3-D printing has fascinated me since the first time I heard about it. It blew my mind that a machine could produce a 3-D object using an ink-like material. A recent article by the Wall Street Journal illustrated how 3-D printing could be used in space. The article describes how buildings could be made by using lunar dust as bricks. However, the most interesting part of the article was the fact that it stated that, “If astronauts ever do attempt to reach Mars, they may survive the journey by eating pizza made with a 3-D-printed food system for long duration space missions, now under development in Texas.” http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-3-d-printing-is-going-out-of-this-world-1428873155?mod=WSJ_hp_EditorsPicks. While 3-D printing is not a new development, I have not of it being used to make food. If proven successful, this technology could be used in poor countries and in countries experiencing famine to provide food in times of need.
A recent publishing by the Washington Post describes how patients could be given specific dosages of vitamins by actually hooking up the printer to their body. “We can see a time when you might be wearing technology that would be sensing what your body needs at any given time, whether you’re an athlete or whether you have a medical condition or whether you’re elderly,” von Hasseln said. “And that could theoretically link up to your printer at home and when you get home a specialized meal could be waiting for you that provides exactly what your body needs.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2015/01/28/5-amazing-ways-3d-printed-food-will-change-the-way-we-eat/. This is remarkable and would enable those with medical conditions and even those without to properly monitor certain levels of vitamins and maintain proper health. This would help people in poorer countries get certain levels of nutrition their current diets do not allow.
The key with all of this is to develop 3-D printing cheap enough to allow for wide scale application and use. Currently, these machines are limited to companies who specialize in making products with these machines and other large institutions such as universities and NASA. The fact that people in space are actually planning on maintaining proper nutrition using these machines is remarkable. If successful, this industry could take off and provide an effective was of nutritional gain. I believe now is the time to invest in 3-D printing. This is our future and I could right an essay about the areas of life in which to apply this technology. As people constantly seek to create new medical devices to combat disease or find cures to disease, 3-D printing could be a solution to malnutrition and proper health maintenance.