Aug 28, 2015 | By Alec

The list of 3D printable materials has gotten very long and diverse over recent years, and only seems to be increasing in length at a very steady rate. But among it are some very surprising (and sometimes even edible) materials, and one Dutch professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia has just added perhaps the strangest: Vegemite. Not only has Marc in het Panhuis successfully 3D printed this material, he has proved that the material is an ideal conductor of electricity. Could this be the future of edible electronics?

Now for those of you who’ve never ventured down under, Vegemite is not only a more versatile ingredient than expected, it is also something of a cult product. It has shaped the breakfasts and lives of millions of Australians for decades, and is actually quite healthy. Full of B vitamins, it is made from left-over yeast extracts from the brewing industry, as well as a couple of other spices. It is also a rather well-known product with umami flavor and is eaten on everything in Australia, including just on toast with a bit of butter.

Despite all the inventive Vegemite recipes out there, no one has ever tried to 3D print it, which is exactly what professor Marc in het Panhuis has now achieved. You might know this engineering expert for a number of other 3D printing innovations. Just recently, we reported on his involvement in a 4D printed valve.

Evidently, one morning over breakfast, he guessed that Vegemite is a more versatile product than many believe. Designing a breadboard (for electronic circuit prototypes, not for bread), he 3D printed Vegemite on top of a slice of white bread with a custom 3D printer in the logo of his university. In his experience, Vegemite was actually a fantastic 3D printable material.

As its qualities also suggest that Vegemite is capable of conducting electricity – containing water so and being very salty – that is something that also had to be tested. LED lights were therefore plugged into the UWO logo and powered up. And as you can see for yourself, it worked! ‘Even on bread we can put electricity through our Vegemite’, the professor declares. ‘This shows that we can 3-D print vegemite electronics and use it to power LEDs.’ And as he goes on to prove, it is still edible – just make sure to unhook all electronics.

However, this project is far more than just a bit of fun – it could actually be a medical breakthrough. Professor in het Panhuis suspects that 3D printed Vegemite could play a big role in 3D printing edible medical electronics that can be ingested and naturally processed. ‘They can be used to make ingestible biomedical sensors that perform a function (in the stomach for example) and are then processed by the body in a natural way,’ he says. ‘Other applications for these edible electronics include kits to teach children about electronic circuits - that they can eat afterwards!’ the professor speculates. While this is certainly the weirdest 3D printed material we’ve seen yet, it could thus also be the most potent.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Ida Garland wrote at 12/21/2015 8:27:06 PM:

Hello, My name is Ida Garland and I am the assistant photo editor here at Popular Mechanics magazine! In our upcoming issue we are running a small sidebar about 3-D printing and saw the story about Vegemite being 3-D printed and wanted to see if you had the contact info of the author of the story? I am looking to include their image of the bread with vegemite printed on it for the magazine and we are on a bit of a time crunch and would love to speak to them today. Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you! Sincerely, Ida Garland Ida Garland Assistant Photo Editor Popular Mechanics 300 w. 57th Street, 23rd Flr New York, NY 10019

jcubed wrote at 8/28/2015 7:10:31 PM:

Why the hell would you want to eat something electronic?? Still interesting tho. But seriously why??

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