New Polymer Family: 3D-Printable, Recyclable, and Self-Healing

Researchers from Texas A&M University  and the Army Research Laboratory have created a new family of 3D printable synthetic materials whose stiffness spans a 1000-fold range. Their properties can be fine-tuned to either the strength of load-bearing plastics or to the softness of rubber. The materials can self-heal within seconds, have shape memory, and are recyclable. These characteristics, "make them suited for not just more realistic prosthetics and soft robotics, but also ideal for broad military applications such as agile platforms for air vehicles and futuristic self-healing aircraft wings," says Dr. Svetlana Sukhishvili of Texas A&M. The secret behind the polymers’ self-healing and morphing abilities is chemistry.