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The future of food? 3D printing moves beyond guns and artwork

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 5:25 a.m. MDT

3D printing makes it possible for artists to create sculptures like this, but Anjan Contractor sees a different future for 3D printing: ending world hunger. (Joshua Harker, Associated Press) 3D printing makes it possible for artists to create sculptures like this, but Anjan Contractor sees a different future for 3D printing: ending world hunger. (Joshua Harker, Associated Press)

The new world of 3D printing is on its way to revolutionizing personal weapons after the successful test of the first entirely 3D printed gun in early May, but mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor sees a different future for 3D printing: ending world hunger.

"I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can't supply 12 billion people sufficiently," Contractor told Quartz. "So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food."

According to Quartz, Contractor's 3D food printing plan involves customized "nutritionally-appropriate" meals printed one layer at a time and made from cartridges of powder and oils purchased from the grocery store.

"One of the major advantages of a 3D printer is that it provides personalized nutrition," Contractor said. "If you're male, female, someone is sick — they all have different dietary needs. If you can program your needs into a 3D printer, it can print exactly the nutrients that person requires."

Contractor's $125,000 grant from NASA is designed to help him create a system to print food for astronauts on long space missions, but Contractor and his team hope to one day see someone lead the way with a 3D food printing business.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company