Scientists have presented materials that repair themselves and can be used for 3D printing. They can be used to make durable cars or airplanes.
Researchers at Imperial College London have created three-dimensional building blocks that can self-repair in response to damage. Now scientists have figured out how to use them in 3D printing.
Generated Living Materials (ELMs) take advantage of plants’ ability to heal and replenish material and can respond to damage in harsh environments with a “feel and response” system.
This work, published in the journal Nature Communications, could lead to the creation of materials that detect and heal damage. It can help to repair cracks in the windshield, a rip in the fuselage of an aircraft, or potholes in the road. By integrating building blocks into self-healing building materials, scientists want to reduce maintenance and extend the life of the material.
The same method is used in architecture – these are modular elements that can be assembled into various building structures. This study showed that the same principle can be applied to the design and construction of materials based on bacterial cellulose.
To create the ELM, the researchers genetically modified a bacteria called Komagataeibacter rhaeticus to produce fluorescent, three-dimensional, sphere-shaped cell cultures known as spheroids and endow them with sensors that detect damage. They arranged spheroids in various shapes and patterns, demonstrating the potential of spheroids as modular building blocks.