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    Developing 3D Printing Self-healing Materials at Lamar University to Realize Zero Waste
    03.18.2021 | CC Collaborator | News

    Recently, a team of researchers at the University of Lamar, Texas, led by Dr. Kevin Dawami, an assistant professor, developed a self-repairing material using an advanced SLA 3D printer. The technology has a variety of applications, ranging from fixing soles and mobile screen to cartilage repair. By exposing the material to ultraviolet light, it can achieve "self-repair". Researchers believe that it can help reduce the amount of waste generated when materials are damaged, and if it can repair itself, it can repair the damage without any waste.


    Dr. Kevin Dawami is also the head of the University's Nano-Micro-Macro Manufacturing Group. His team published a paper on their work entitled "Additional Manufacturing Self-Repair Structures for Embedded Therapeutic Agent Storage in Scientific Reports". The co-authors are Melda Morsenitzad, Morgan Micham, Praven Damasus, Quentin Williams and Mike. Er Monte.


    The researchers wrote: "Self-repairing materials can partially or completely restore their mechanical properties by repairing the damage they cause, and have great potential for application in the absence or limited channels for repair. Here we present a new design of a bioinspired self-healing material in which cells embedded in the structure are filled with a UV-curable resin and act as a reservoir of self-healing agents. This design makes it possible to repair mechanical damage repeatedly. When the fracture extends to one of the embedded reservoirs, the healing agent is released into the fracture plane by capillary action, and the fracture surface is bonded by ultraviolet radiation polymerization. The structure here is fabricated by stereolithography through layers of deposited materials.

    As a unique integrated technology, "resin capture" has been developed for the first time to expand the capability of 3D printing manufacturing technology and create more functional components. Compared with previously reported self-healing materials, self-healing materials are manufactured in one step without any continuous stage, i.e. filling tanks with healing agents. Multiscale mechanical tests, such as nanoindentation and three-point bending, confirm the effectiveness of our method.


    Inspired by nature, the team's materials were captured inside the material through a series of storage devices and released only in case of rupture. Does that sound familiar? It's similar to the microvascular blood network in our skin, which helps heal when injured.

    Reply to our organization. Only in this case can the capillary function make the ultraviolet sensitive resin escape, rather than blood entering the wound surface, so only the necessary amount is needed to fix the isolated injury.


    Picture: University of Lamar

    As a story in the New Atlas explains, "As long as these objects are intact, the liquid will not be destroyed. However, if the polymer resin ruptures, capillary action will extract part of the liquid resin. Once quickly exposed to artificial ultraviolet light, the liquid resin will polymerize and seal the cracks.

    According to the university, because of the "autonomous function of self-healing mechanisms", there is little need for any short-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation to repair any damage to the material. Ultraviolet radiation can be accomplished remotely and will be particularly useful for hard-to-reach equipment components.

    The potential benefits of this self-repairing 3D printing material are profound. It is much faster to use this material to repair damageable everyday items such as equipment components, glasses and tools. In addition, if this self-repairing mechanism is used to produce more items, the amount of waste transported to landfills due to product breakage will be greatly reduced.


    For their paper, Dr. Kevin Dawami's team produced samples of their materials on SLA 3D printers, which were designed in SOLIDWORKS. They are now working on further development of the technology, with the goal of reducing the amount of light needed to achieve self-healing. This means that no human intervention is needed, and only the surrounding ultraviolet sources, such as sunlight, can repair themselves.

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