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Researchers from Lamar University, Texas, have developed a 3D printable self-healing structure using stereolithography (SLA) technology.
Inspired by the internal networks of the prickly pear (Opuntia), the study published in Nature details that such objects can be used to fully restore the mechanical properties of damaged tools “where there is no or only limited access available to conduct a repair.”
Sample - Material - Break - Middle - Photo
A sample of the material, with a healed break in the middle. Photo via Keivan Davami/Lamar University.
To address the common issue of crack-prone tools, Professor Keivan Davami, director of the Nano-Micro-Macro manufacturing group at Lamar University, led a team of researchers in the creation of an object that could fix itself. This structure would be capable of autonomic self-repair to address tool failure, particularly within eyeglass and device components and shoe soles, which are prone to breaking.
Researchers - Architecture - Pear - Member - Cactus
The researchers looked to the architecture of the prickly pear, a member of the cactus family. When cut, this plant oozes out a viscous liquid (mucilage) which works to close the opened area as soon as a crack forms. The mucilage is stored in reservoirs found inside the prickly pear and is able to locate an opening due to capillary force.
Using a Form 2 3D printer, self-healing structures emulating this architecture were produced. Within the structures are unit cells filled with a UV-curable resin in a technique dubbed as “resin trapping.” These units act as reservoirs for the self-healing agent. Once fractures appear in the 3D printed structures, resin...
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