At Dawson Shanahan we are enthusiastic about new developments in technologies and materials, especially ones that have the potential to change the way almost every manufacturing sector operates.
Self-healing materials certainly is one area of constant research and development that could alter everything, from the materials we use to construct buildings and aircraft, to how long wall paint and nail polish will last.
Although the theory and initial research on the subject has been around for 20 or so years, it is fast developing into a technology which can, and is, being applied to real products and real solutions.
The development of this exciting technology has brought it to a point where it is capable of autonomously healing cracks in itself. In some experiments, a covalently cross-linked gel can actually “heal” two halves together even after they have been separated for 5 days.
Its potential applications are wide ranging as highlighted by two diverse projects from the automotive manufacturer Nissan, with its Scratch Shield paint, which self-heals minor scratches, and scratch-free iPhone cases. Other practical suggestions include autonomous maintenance of spacecraft, aircraft and buildings, plus longer lasting paint for any purpose.
At Dawson Shanahan we are particularly excited about the possibilities this provides for the aerospace industry, as we have been involved in this sector for over 60 years.
Professor Ian Bond is involved in research into the possible application of this technology for aircraft. He speaks about how the materials currently used for the structure of aircraft are inherently damage prone.
He also points out that although the damage is not always visible, it can still have a significant effect on performance, operations and safety.
Self-healing materials will undoubtedly lead to major changes in the way we manufacture almost everything, and we are eagerly anticipating the further development of this technology and its application into our daily lives.