Could Self-Healing Plastic Be 3D Printed?

A curious new plastic can heal itself in water, but could this be used in a 3D printer? 

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania examined squid teeth, which have a very unusual property: they can heal themselves, even when submerged in water. 

Here’s the interesting part: the researchers were able to determine which genes controlled healing and thus could derive the proteins that make this effect happen. By applying a solvent, they created a kind of rubbery plastic. A plastic which self-heals. 

This video shows a small sample being cut and fused together, merely by the presence of water. 

Self-healing 3D printer filament would be a most interesting product, if it could be manufactured at low cost and could be reliability extruded. Most flexible filaments have challenges with extruders, but it’s not like it’s an impossible problem to solve. 

You could print objects that could be cut, and then re-sealed with a splash of water. Imagine a container that is completely sealed. Cut to open, reseal. A jar with a lid that becomes part of the jar! Repairs could be attempted by dusting a print with particles and wetting. 

Just don’t spill your water on a fresh spool of self-healing filament, because it won’t be filament for very long. 

Via Wired UK
Image Credit: Wikimedia

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