Initial Brainstorming – Food Security and MRE’s

We began our OZCHI24 2014 Journey with just myself and Ronan as Frederik kindly was trying to USB stick for the actual paper printer (oops).

What Liz Thinks the Future of 3D Printing Will Be Like

Mostly we thought hard and wide about the problem, thinking of all the possible applications. We wrote these down on pages and windows of the Honours student office at the University of Sydney Design Lab.

2014-09-21 04.09.25 2014-09-21 04.09.30 2014-09-21 04.08.53

The UN Development Goals and Food Security

Liz was primarily concerned with the fact 3D printing might be used to disguise the taste of certain foods that actually might be more sustainable, part of a long term solution for sustainable agriculture that would see a decline in the problems associated with monocultures. Monocultures are one of the reasons postured as a threat to future food security as they more vulnerable to disease but with the dominance of western culture and tastes spreading the potential fallout from the loss of local knowledge around the world is great (Fralin 2011). Suggestions have been made to limit these effects and food shortages, such as eating insects. Also, 3D printing has been used in the case of algae to create superfoods intended for highly urbanised environments of the future.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 3.48.00 am

In the end, this didn’t offer much insight into solving the design brief, as it particularly asked for fruits and vegetables and increased consumption. But then Liz and Ro optioned another idea.

Printing in a Crisis: A possible user case of MRE’s 

After reading the suggested reading concerning the military deployment of MRE 3D printing machines for soldiers in order to cater to highly specific needs with possible high caloric intake- then why not refugees in camps that might have deficiency needs, plus need food with a very long shelf life that can be readily moved? This would also be ideal in situations where it is hard to ship large amounts of ‘staple’ ingredients. Anjan Contractor, who is the engineer for the NASA project on 3D printing (also referenced by the challenge brief) has already floated this idea. It would be an incredible service design challenge, but probably not readily testable for the confines of the OZCHI24 challenge, sadly.

The 3D Printed Pizza by Anjan Contractor, which might be viable in 10 years for NASA Astronauts

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What did we take away from this?

  • Creating 3D printing programs for highly localised solutions is highly feasible
  • 3D printing makes it very possible to highly personalise your nutritional intake specific to a user’s needs

Where are we going?

  • Who needs this right now that we can test on?
  • How might they use it and why?
  • Would they even find this appealing?
  • People already fail on diets all the time if they’re trying to nourish themselves properly purely out of temptation, what could make this technology more than a really expensive type of Weight Watchers?
  • How to avoid the privacy issue, ‘nanny state’ problem that could arise from monitoring users’ food intake.


  • An examination of the potential of exploring eating disorders (dysphagia etc)
  • Using 3D Printing to our advantage to make things not look… unappealing to say the least!
  • Will Liz lose her patience with Frederik snapping pictures of her with his DSLR? WHO KNOWS?


Academic References:

Fralin, Sara. “The Value of Diversity in Creating Food Security and Maintaining Food Sovereignty.” On Politics 5.1 (2011).


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