We have 3D printers in our schools and some might even already own one in their home. We print plastics and more recently metals, but the next step, which has already been breached, is printing food.
Imagine a world years from now that already replaced the manufacturing industry with printers. Global greenhouse gas emissions from livestock had huge consequences, the world population was continuously growing, and malnutrition continued to tear apart third world countries. So they took the next step in the 3D-printing revolution: 3D-printed food.
Every family who can afford a 3D printer owns one, maybe even two or three. They can be found in place of food shelters, and in factories where diverse machinery was once present. And everything is automated; resources are distributed and used more carefully under supervision and regulation, reducing waste but also reducing choice and creativity. Malnutrition can be treated easily with artificial proteins created by the 3D-printers, which is one of the reasons the switch was made, but the machines don’t exist in all the places they need to, and don’t work in all the places where they do. In regions where poverty still rages, the public printers break down from overuse or misuse, and sometimes are left empty of resources to print with.
In addition to the unsolved hunger and malnutrition in poorer areas, the agriculture industry is dead, along with many other manufacturing jobs that people once held. Farmers are something that only exist in history books, along with chefs and factory workers. Farms are deserted; livestock was banned years ago because of the mounting implications on the earth’s climate, and it’s pointless to put labor into a crop that can now be artificially created by a printer for less money and more convenience. Unrest is increasing in and about poverty-ridden areas; if they can’t print their food and farms are non-existent then they literally have nothing to eat. But these are problems of people that remain mostly unheard. While it was argued in the beginning that the switch would help them, it was in part for them, the printing revolution has moved away and beyond that now.
With a focus on the good things: the fewer wasted materials and resources, longer life spans due to easily replaced product parts, less transport, and fewer unsold products, it seems reasonable, even a good idea then to advance printing once again. It was a quick transition from printing plastics to metals and from metals to food and artificial proteins, so why not take it one step further? Imagine the possibilities if we began to print living tissue. Imagine all the people it could help, how many lives it could make better. If only it would help the people that need it most.