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Robotics Science

Self-Healing Plastic Skin 104

Posted by kdawson
from the polymer-heal-thyself dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have developed a form of plastic skin that can heal itself when damaged. The material relies on an underlying network of vessels — similar to blood capillaries — that carry a healing agent to areas on the material's surface that sustain damage. Unlike previous self-healing systems that relied on capsules of agent buried in the polymer and which became depleted after one use, the new system can respond to damage at the same point many times over."
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Self-Healing Plastic Skin

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  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @06:59AM (#19476091) Homepage Journal
    Plastic skin...
    No big win.
    A chiseled chin,
    Flashy as Flynn:
    Burma Shave
  • by 2.7182 (819680) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @07:00AM (#19476097)
    HAIL Joan Rivers!
  • One ste closer... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by stormi (837687)
    ... to living forever!

    Honestly though, as cool as it sounds, I can't help but wonder what adverse side effects there might be for some individuals.
  • by Atheose (932144) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @07:04AM (#19476119)
    Imagine how this could be applied to burn victims.

    Or, on a more humerous note, Michael Jackson. Though I suppose there's no cure for wierdness.
    • Re:Burn victims (Score:4, Insightful)

      by john83 (923470) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @07:10AM (#19476161)

      Imagine how this could be applied to burn victims.
      I don't think it's there yet. I'm not sure anything that uses solid epoxy resins as healing agents is likely to get FDA (or whatever the appropriate body is!) approval for use in people. In industry though... it could be very cool to have an aeroplane that could deal with a crack in the hull, or a spacecraft which could fill micrometeorite holes.
    • Oop, got your nose!

      ...

      Holy shit it's growing back!
    • by DavidV (167283)

      Imagine how this could be applied to burn victims.

      Or, on a more humerous note, Michael Jackson. Though I suppose there's no cure for wierdness.

      I immediately thought the same thing.... burn victims, not the creepy pop identity. I got severely burnt, >90%. They used artificial skin on most of my body as there was only ~10% to graft from, it had to be replaced with my own skin once the donor sites had regenerated which took 2 weeks surprisingly. I had 2 donor sites so 1-2 operations a week for months. This sounds like it could have saved me about 30 operations and I would be invincible now. I kind of already am, the way they work out percentage c

      • by DavidV (167283)

        Imagine how this could be applied to burn victims.

        Or, on a more humerous note, Michael Jackson. Though I suppose there's no cure for wierdness.

        I immediately thought the same thing.... burn victims, not the creepy pop identity. I got severely burnt, >90%. They used artificial skin on most of my body as there was only ~10% to graft from, it had to be replaced with my own skin once the donor sites had regenerated which took 2 weeks surprisingly. I had 2 donor sites so 1-2 operations a week for months. This sounds like it could have saved me about 30 operations and I would be invincible now. I kind of already am, the way they work out percentage chance of survival came up negative for me....that was 9 years ago. I want plastic skin, I could join the X-Men, no I'm not an ex-man, that was part of the 10% thankfully.

        Damn it's not biological skin I hear....I was designing my costume.

      • by Atheose (932144)
        Yeah, this new skin would be great for someone in a situation like yours. Imagine being able to use this rather than taking skin off your ass or from other donors.
      • by ls -la (937805)

        the way they work out percentage chance of survival came up negative for me
        Well, if they didn't give a time limit on it, they might as well say zero.
      • by TuxBeej (75679)
        90% burns... username "DavidV"...

        You're not David [wikipedia.org], are you?

        • by Matimus (598096)
          His original post said it was 9 years ago. From the Wikipedia article, "David" came out in 1988, 19 years ago. If the movie really is based on a true story, the actual event would have happened some time before that. So I don't think DavidV is "David".
  • Interesting concept (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordBafford (1087463) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @07:07AM (#19476145) Homepage
    This is a very good break through. With a material like this if it can be mass produced and make correctly we could see this in homes and cars as possible replacements for windows. Saying that if something broke a window it would just fix itself automatically. I assume the military will fine plenty of uses for this too. I noted that the main use they were talking about is related to space, which is great and could potentially saw millions on our various orbiters and probes where as if they are hit by debris in space they can repair themselves and save countless man hours and material in planning a mission to fix them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by theaceoffire (1053556)
      This wouldn't work for windows unless you cracked them... If you have a crack, the veins would ooze out of em, sealing them. If you have a hole, the veins would just ooze... If it seals fast enough, it MIGHT be able to create some sort of covering, but that covering would have no veins inside it, meaning it can't repair itself again in the future, meaning that the window has to be replaced anyway. Nah, the real places you are going to see this being used, is in wires, tubes, and other items that don't ha
      • True, but i was thinking of it more like that new bulletproof vest they have that would absorb some the impact and then just regenerate the damage done. Not sure if this is what they are going for but a combination of the two products would be an excellent idea IMHO. Hopefully they are working on that as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I can think of a thousand uses around the house. Cutting boards in the kitchen (or maybe even kitchen countertops!), a workplace mat for the garage. You could make garbage cans out of the stuff (think of how many times the garbage collectors have destroyed your can). Durable flooring. I wonder if you could make a desk out of the stuff...

       
  • ...Resistance is futile.

  • for one... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Z80a (971949)
    i welcome the self healing,plastic cyborgs overlords
  • Self-healing kids' toys! The world will never be the same again.
    • "Scientists noticed that whenever an airplane would crash, they'd search through the wreckage and the only thing that ever survives intact are these cute little baby dolls. So they built Starbug out of the same stuff."
      • But there is one thing that can destroy a cute little baby doll: Another cute little baby doll.
    • Chucky?
  • Destroy the plastic skin before the T-1000 can come back from the future to grab it and the cybernetic arm and CPU and return to the future to ensure its existence.
  • by syntap (242090)
    Finally, my morning tormentor will be able to heal itself after its otherwise-fatal blow or toss.
  • has anybody told Michael Jackson?

    I mean he's just got to be beating down their doors on this one....

    ..shudders.

    lets face it, any new design of skin is probably better then what he has.

    • I mean he's just got to be beating down their doors on this one....

      lets face it, any new design of skin is probably better then what he has.
      Wait a minute, "he"?
  • Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Floritard (1058660)
    We can do that live action version of The Polar Express [imdb.com]
  • by astapleton (324242) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:01AM (#19477161) Homepage Journal
    ...are enormous.

    1) A layer of self-healing plastic inside a space suit to seal off punctures before the astronaut loses too much air.
    2) Same thing on a larger scale for boats - just make the plastic sensitive to direct contact to water.
    3) Same thing on an even larger scale for planes, especially jetliners.
    4) Same thing on the largest scale for shuttles, space stations and true spacecraft.
    5) Plastic layers inside the seams and seals of a car so that water-immersed vehicles can slow water flow into a car long enough to increase the accident victim's chances of survival without preventing them from escaping a sinking vehicle.
    6) Battlefield plastic skin bandages to protect a wound from further damage, cover and clean it, maintain pressure on the injury and encourage clotting at the wound site.

    I could go on for a while on this, these being just the accident-oriented uses...
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      AC because I'm lazy

      Note that it is almost impossible to open a car door underwater before the cabin has filled w/ water because of the pressure differential.

      For reference see Mythbusters.
    • Your suggestions, while lovely, aren't really feasible. I think a big misconception about the usefulness of this technology is the speed at which this approach would actually do its work.

      You're never going to get huge speed from a capillary system, you're limited by flow restrictions and capillary pressure. Even more importantly, you want a capillary system to rebuild slowly so control is maintained and sustained over the process.

      Which would be more desirable, cutting a low pressure set of small veins (li
    • by bendav (1098707)

      ...are enormous.

      2) Same thing on a larger scale for boats - just make the plastic sensitive to direct contact to water.

      When the lining of a blood vessel (the endothelium) is intact, blood flows without clotting. When it is damaged, the highly negatively charged extracellular matrix underneath (mostly collagen) is exposed, and this causes a change in the shape of platelets. This makes them bind together and release a whole bunch of chemicals that causes clotting.

      We understand a lot about the processes that go on in the body, this skin is an example of how we try to simplify and replicate them to make something useful.

  • Stretch Man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Derosian (943622) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:34AM (#19477567) Homepage Journal
    Finally they can make a Stretch man that will be able to repair itself! Never again will we have to worry about the gooey insides coming out. Now we just need to find a way to keep the insides from hardening.

    On a more serious note, this could easily be used as a combat suit, think of it as a tight suit that repairs itself. If you get stabbed the suit first protects you from the blade and covers up the wound protecting you from blood loss, I can think up hundreds of practical applications for this outside of the realm of combat too. Pressure sensitive equipment can self-repair, as well as if this material is a good insulator then it might be applicable to wiring.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Finally they can make a Stretch man that will be able to repair itself!
      Is this one of the few occasions it might be on-topic to mention goatse?
    • Never again will we have to worry about the gooey insides coming out.
      I thought that was the whole purpose of Stretch. I mean honestly, what could you do with Stretch? Stretch him. How long would that remain entertaining? Less than an hour. What do you do after that? If you were anything like me and my friends, you took a knife to him to see what was inside.
  • T0.5? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Dausha (546002)
    Doesn't anybody remember that the first cyborgs had plastic/rubber skin? We could identify them very quickly. The T-1000s were the first to have living tissue over the robotic endoskeleton.

    On step closer to Skynet.
  • This is a neat technology with uses other than skin. One thing which comes to mind is the issue of punctures in the space station, or even rocket ships, due to collisions with all of the junk that is currently in orbit. Or space suits.

    If they could only get this to work in the low temperature of space, I think they'd have an instant contract with NASA.

    IIRC, a science fiction writer once wrote about something similar. Asimov, I think. But the "healing" happened from a gel contained on the inside of the s

    • Using foam in the exterior casing to "heal" holes has been around as long as I have. Now, I don't know if NASA uses that technology or not, but if they don't its not because its previously been impossible, but rather that its been deemed unsuitable to repair space stations that way. So I don't really see how this new technology would make any difference.
  • by Zero_DgZ (1047348)
    Where is my damn robot battle maid already?
  • Couple it with the fake blood, couple of variable-speed servos and you can have your very own android.
  • by ajdecon (233641) <ajdecon@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @11:03AM (#19478623)
    ...with more information, pictures, and a little video. Oh! And a link to a PDF of the actual article.

    http://www.mvac.uiuc.edu/network.html [uiuc.edu]
  • If your "Plastic" skin is damaged, wouldn't it be easier to just switch to a different skin, like "Sky Blue" or "Metal"?
  • If they ever make this plastic regenerate its shape as well as structural integrity (*snicker*), I'll want to use one to coat my car with it. All those little dings and scratches - wouldn't it be wonderful if your car could heal itself and always look brand new? :)
  • just another piece of equipment that our troops in the field won't ever have. are huzzahs still in order?
  • What repairs the capillary vessels when they are damaged?
    • by argent (18001)
      What kind of damage to the vascular system are you thinking about?
      • by macraig (621737)
        Any kind of a "deep" or extensive wound, that would damage the vascular system itself as much or more than the surface "skin". Well, heck, I suppose that wouldn't be so much different than biological systems, because that sort of injury is often fatal barring major intervention, right? Think of a burn patient, maybe... without massive skin grafts and anti-rejection drugs and steps to prevent infection during all of that, he'd be a goner otherwise. Maybe this polymer analogy really doesn't fall very short
        • by argent (18001)
          Right, I think this is for abrasion and surface cracking, not structural damage.
  • Submit the following tags:

    Bionics
    Biomimetics

    In case you're curious...
    Bionics - Application of biological principles to the study and design of engineering systems, especially electronic.

    Biomimetics - The development of synthetic systems based on information from biological systems

    Figures that the article that would get me to finally break down and get a /. account would be one that fails to omit the branch of science which provided the answers

    (It's also the one I'm getting my degree in, so I'm biased).
  • Wow, now I can 'spank the monkeys' without worrying about friction burns on my wee-willy-winky.
  • I'm suprised noone brought up self healing condoms or cervical caps...
  • "Sarah Connor?"
  • DVD's Fibre wires Monitor Screens any surface where cracks and grooves are unwanted :)

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