US engineers unveil 3D-printed self-healing rubber material

3D-printed-rubber-material A 3D-printed rubber material with self-healing properties has been developed by a team of US engineers from the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering.

Published in NPG Asia Materials, the 3D-printing method photopolymerisation,whereby light is used to solidify a liquid resin to form a desired shape or geometry, created the material that can repair itself in just a few hours when damaged.

During the testing, the team cut the material in half and then put it back together in a room with a temperature of 60°C. After 2 hours, the object fused again and returned to its flexible state.Although the said temperature allows the healing in the object, first author of the study Kunhao Yu, assured that the material can still self-heal at a room temperature.

A 17.5mm of square material can be printed within 5 seconds while an object, which can be used for a range of products like electronic sensor, soft robot, multiphase composite and a shoe pad, can be printed within 20 minutes.With this pace, the new material can be quickly manufactured and be a game-changer for shoes, tires, soft robotics and electronics industry.

Currently, the team is further developing self-healing materials in regular rubber and hard plastics for vehicle parts and body armour.