Could 3D Printing eradicate extreme poverty and hunger?

3D printing is a process that creates a three-dimensional object -solidified under computer control- by building successive layers of raw material. Each new layer is attached to the previous one until the object is complete. [1]


This technology can be used in various fields, such as engineering, product design, manufacture, architecture, food, medicine, amongst many others. Thanks to 3D printing, companies are able to prototype from clothing, to electronics, architectural models, and aircrafts. Not only can It allow designers to make changes easily without the need to set up additional equipment or tools, but is also reduces costs, waste, manual labor and time.

These are great qualities that every company looks for, but what about the customers? What do they get out of this? Well, for starters prices will eventually go down as people would be able to create their own clothing and food from home, so my guess is that companies will lower their prices to remain competitive. On top of this, and most important, people in underdeveloped countries would be able to live a life with dignity by being able to afford housing, food and medicine.


New Story, for example, is a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit which is working along Icon –a construction tech company- to create a 3D printer that can build a house in a day for roughly $4,000 USD {2}

In terms of food, there is a possibility of using additive manufacturing technology to provide stable nutrition for people in the poorest nations, so they are not affected by food shortage or quality and quantity of food with the adequate nutrition. 3D printed food offers portability and on-demand nutrients based on a person’s dietary requirements [3]

When it comes to medicine, 3D printing is able to create surgical instruments -at a fraction of the cost of traditional stainless instruments- dental restorations, implants and external prosthetics created specifically for the patient based on individual features [4]. On top of this, 3D printing process to manufacture living organs such as a heart or a liver is already being researched and will probably become a reality in a few years, preventing thousands of deaths due to shortage of organs.


There is no doubt, that we have a long way to walk but I believe that by developing these technologies, we will be able to provide food, housing and medicine at affordable prices, which will eventually help eradicate extreme poverty in underdeveloped countries.




[1] [4]. FDA (2018). 3D Printing of Medical Devices. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Retrieved July 30th from:

{2} Peters A. (2018). This house can be 3D-Printed for $4,000. Fast Company. Retrieved July 31st from:

[3]. 3D (2016). 3D printing as a solution to global food crises. Retrieved July 29th from:


2 comments on “Could 3D Printing eradicate extreme poverty and hunger?”

  1. 3D printing is certainly evolving rapidly and has the potential to change our lives in many ways. It has a wide range of applications and I think you are right in saying it has enormous potential to help those in need by providing instant food and infrastructure. Although the technology may not be at such a stage today, it wouldn’t be surprising to see such implementation in the next few years.

  2. Interesting take.

    Is the idea that eventually the total cost will be driven (mostly) by raw material cost?

    Having dabbled in economics a bit, my $.02 is we might want to be a bit more cautious when it comes to evaluating the cost saving.

    There are many dimensions to consider. Availability of alternatives, labor, …

    In many cases today (manufacturing of food, clothes, …) producers have been able to achieve excellent economy of scale. For 3D printing to become a competitive alternative, the operationalization part is critical (how to print fast/achieve same cycle time as that of SOTA manufacturing technologies).


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