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Researchers Develop Self-Healing Plastic 71

Posted by kdawson
from the you're-terminated dept.
schliz writes "Arizona State researchers have been working on a 'self-healing' polymer that uses a fibre optic 'nervous system' to detect and fix cracks. The system recovers up to 96 percent of an object's original strength in laboratory tests. It could find use in 'large-scale composite structures for which human intervention would be difficult,' such as wind turbines, satellites, aircraft, or the Mars Rover."
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Researchers Develop Self-Healing Plastic

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  • I for one (Score:2, Funny)

    by anonymousNR (1254032)
    welcome our self-healing plastic overlords
  • is self replicating machines built with self healing material.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hell, we *are* "self replicating machines built with self healing material".

    • by spazdor (902907)

      You've got one. It is the device between your keyboard and your chair.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Self healing perhaps but I would not bet anything on the replicating part.

        • Self healing perhaps but I would not bet anything on the replicating part.

          Parthenogenesis hasn't been shown to work in anything more advanced than a frog, but there is hope yet. [wsj.com]

          • by RockDoctor (15477)

            Self healing perhaps but I would not bet anything on the replicating part.

            Parthenogenesis hasn't been shown to work in anything more advanced than a frog,

            Frogs are very advanced. One could argue that they're more "advanced" than humans (in terms of anatomical specialisation).

            Try saying what you (probably) mean for a change.

  • by daemonhunter (968210) on Friday December 10, 2010 @04:30PM (#34517684)
    I'm sure someone's already working on a patent for this, but what would stop us from replacing sections of road with textured, self-healing plastic?
    We still have too little information on the plastic at hand, but it could hopefully reduce Transit Dept. maintenance costs worldwide.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Friday December 10, 2010 @04:49PM (#34517934)
      Probably not, at least not on the surface. The problem is that a significant portion of the wear and tear is from the surface rubbing off. It might help some, but doubtful that it would be enough to make it worthwhile.
      • by RsG (809189) on Friday December 10, 2010 @05:52PM (#34518560)

        Also, a fair bit of the issue is cost per mile.

        We could build, right now, with modern technology, roads that could go decades or longer between repaving or other maintenance. No self-healing wonderplastic required; modern engineering and existing materials are up to the task. Wouldn't last forever, but if you only need to make repairs every eighty odd years, that's more than good enough. It might even been economical in the very, very long run.

        The reason we don't do this is money. Simple asphalt and gravel, with sporadic repairs and repaving every decade or so is "good enough". Long term savings that would take most of a human lifespan to pay off aren't attractive to anybody in a position to implement them, for obvious reasons.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I am an American living in Europe and many of the roads in this country are made of cobblestones. They don't wear down easily and it's easy to replace very specific areas of the road instead of tearing it all up.

        Sometimes old tech is better than new tech.

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Plastics suck for road material. They are too soft, break down from the weather and UV, salts, sand, gravel will erode it.

      We use concrete, asphalt and gravel for a reason, the price and durability are right.

      Plus for damage like cracks and gouges, it's not magic, there will still have to be materials brought in

    • by Bozdune (68800)

      Sonny Corleone will stop you from replacing sections of road with textured, self-healing plastic. By using a baseball bat on your kneecaps.

    • by Poorcku (831174)
      you are thinking big. i was thinking more in the lines of scratches on my android screen. cool.
  • ...Wolverine and the T-1000. Wolverine was alive and the T-1000 was a machine. That's it, time to take out sky net!
    • Wolverine joining forces with a T-1000 to take out skynet? Somebody give this guy 200M dollars please.

      • by Stregano (1285764)
        I am pretty confident that you completely missed what I was implying. Oh well, can't teach em all
        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          I am pretty confident that you completely missed what I was implying.

          Then your message failed.

          BTW, I'm not sure what the fuck you mean either. Wolverine I recognise as a Marvel Comics character from the mid-70s ; the rest is probably waste-of-time internent memes from the '90s.

          • by Stregano (1285764)
            Wow, really? So, we are talking about things that can heal themselves. You with me so far? You sure? Now, living and unliving. We are going to look at them based off of fictional items, like Wolverine and the T-1000 who both self healed. Now, are you still paying attention? Hopefully after your cookie and milk you did not get all tired, it is not nap time yet. We are not dealing with a species that can self heal, like Wolverine, hence, it is saying that he is not a threat, and that the T-1000 is now
            • by RockDoctor (15477)

              Wow, really? So, we are talking about things that can heal themselves. You with me so far?

              Yes.

              We are going to look at them based off of fictional items,

              Why? Is retreating into objects of fantasy your normal response to science/ technology news?

              Wolverine and the T-1000 who both self healed.

              [SNIP]

              take out Skynet.

              Wolverine I understand - a character from the X-men comics which I stopped reading in the late 1970s. About the time I started to grow hair on my balls.

              "T-1000", I don't remember from any comics, or from any books that I've read in the interim.

              "Skynet" likewise.

              Now shove your dummy back into your mouth (wipe the shit off it first, if you want) and speak English, boy! (Of course, you remember that meme, makin

              • The T-1000 is the "liquid metal" terminator from Terminator 2, Skynet is the name of the computer that would start the man/machine war in the future (2004).

                Stregano really seems to be using some sort of alternative language to regular English or rather English grammar with unkown assumptions. Let's dissect:

                [Do you know what else is self healing...] ...Wolverine and the T-1000. Wolverine was alive and the T-1000 was a machine. That's it, time to take out sky net!

                Normalizing the first sentence here it says:

                "Do you know what else are self healing? Wolverine and the T-1000."

                Which is true. The second sentence is:

                "Wolverine was alive and the T-1000 was a machine."

                There are three 3 things wrong here, the fist is just weird; why using the past tense? Wolverine and *that* T-1000 both ex

                • by RockDoctor (15477)

                  Sorry for the rant there. Not a native anglophone myself, I still get a kick out of analyzing bad writing.

                  Being a native anglophone married to a non-native speaker, the incompetence of some people at using what appears to be their own language infuriates me.

                  The T-1000 is the "liquid metal" terminator from Terminator 2, Skynet is the name of the computer that would start the man/machine war in the future (2004).

                  I think I saw some of the first Terminator movie - that's the "I'll be back" one? - and consequently haven't bothered to watch any of the rest. Though it's possible that I've been in the TV lounge when some of them have been playing - "liquid metal" rings a bell, and now that I think about it, there's some memory of motorcycle stunts too.

                  I think that Arnie'

                  • that's the "I'll be back" one?

                    Every Terminator movie is "the \"I'll be back\" one", it's one of the movies catchphrases. Actually I think 2 is the one that uses it most.

                    While the first one is the most shocking and new one, 2 is absolutely the best of the franchise. I consider it Cameron's best movie.

                    The pace is varied and fluid, the photography and ambient are engulfing, the action is novel. The plot twists unexpectedly without being disorientating or nonsensical. It managed to be practical, poetical, fun and dramatic; ad did it all we

                    • by RockDoctor (15477)
                      Cameron who?

                      (You can tell that my film studies teacher didn't impress me with the benefits of colour over mono, and I think it's still too early to tell if sound was a good move.)

                      I think I was underwhelmed when I saw a video of the first Terminator movie when it came out and simply haven't chosen to waste time or attention on them since. If they feel the need to recycle catch phrases between movies, then that doesn't sound very enthusing. Wouldn't it have been better to get the first one right than to fl

                    • Not really, while 2 largely echoed 1, it also played to subvert itself, which couldn't be done without the first one to set expectations. They are just different movies.

                      Director James Cameron of Aliens (sequel to Alien), Titanic and Avatar's fame, not that you'll know anything about them, except probably negative things.

                      May I ask, what is it that you find interesting mister? I'm really expecting something impossibly obscure, inconceivably boring and flabbergastingly pedantic, but tell me anyway.

  • Self-aware + self-healing = End of human civilization
  • What about cars? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Friday December 10, 2010 @04:34PM (#34517742) Homepage
    How many times do you drive down the road and see a cars rear or front bumper with a dent/crack, yet the rest of the car is perfectly fine?
    the reason most dont fix the bumper is believe it or not a bumper cover can cost 200-500 bucks, and another 200-500 bucks to paint, and if you dont know what your doing, another 200 bucks to put back on!. I see it all the time on the roads by me, and in the cities, forget it every other car.
    • If you have a crescent wrench / socket set you can go to the salvage yard and get a replacement for about $50 and put it on yourself. They are usually held on by 2-4 bolts. But your idea of the $20,000 self healing bumper works to.
      • by PitaBred (632671)

        Depends on the car. If it's one of the newer models with a plastic bumper, even from a salvage yard you're talking $200+ for the bumper, hopefully getting one that matches your car.

        • If you're paying $200+ for anything at a salvage yard other than an engine or a transmission you're getting ripped off. (ok, maybe a large pickup trick axle might run you $200) And since your bumpers already toast, break off a chunk and take it with you so you know the paint matches.
      • by swb (14022)

        If you can find one without dings in the junk yard that matches your color.

        Half the reason these things end up in the junk yard to begin with is they get into some kind of accident which generally screws up the bumpers. And due to exposure differences you get different paint fade characteristics which cause color matches to look like color mismatches.

        But I appreciate your over-simplified fix it yourself mindset.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        sadly there are not many "do it yourself" salvage yards these days. Most of them are smarter and price things out for better or worse I suppose. I was going by experience with the numbers that I used. As for the 20K self healing bumper, I understand tech is expensive when new, however I am talking down the line and volume. If EVERY bumper on sad car had this, the sheer volume alone should cause the price to drop. give it 5-10 years and it may be a reality.
    • by kimvette (919543)

      The reason you don't see bumper covers fixed is that the ignorant assholes in Boston, New York, etc. slam into the cars in front of and behind them so that they know where the front and back of their car is. They just don't give a fuck about other people's property. You can have your bumper fixed today, and if you park around the city, in a week the bumper will be dinged again.

    • by mooingyak (720677) on Friday December 10, 2010 @05:10PM (#34518140)

      One of my father's favorite stories is about a time he brought his car to a body shop to get a dent fixed. It was a dent in the trunk, roughly the size of a basketball. The guy wanted $450 to fix it (this was many years ago, so inflate to whatever sounds appropriate). He declined. When he got back home and took another look at it, he got pissed off about the whole thing and slammed his fist into the trunk... which caused most of the dent to pop back into place. What was left was closer to the size of a tennis ball. He went back to the same guy a week later and they quoted him $50 for it. He's always referred to it as his $400 punch.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Friday December 10, 2010 @04:36PM (#34517762)

    It just grows stronger and returns to its original shape when cracked. A clean break would not be able to be healed. And that "repair" will fail if they ever turn off the lights in the fiber optics because the crack is still there and the strengthened plastic near the crack will cool back down.

    • by stiffy (93933)

      That was what I thought. Also had a nagging thought that I had heard of self-healing plastic [wikipedia.org] before. Now if they combine these two...

  • Do we have to feed it over time? Eventually it would run out of material to stretch and break down, right? It can't just make material out of thin air.

  • Who tagged this story as "Terminator". Last I heard terminators were not mass produced in China.
    • That we know of....

    • Japan are making astonishing progress on the Cherry2000, however.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I have no idea, there are no resistors connected to signal wires in busses or networks for the purpose of impedance matching to prevent reflections in a piece of plastic, are there?

      Wait, maybe I'm not really at slashdot...

  • While they're at it, maybe those Arizona State researchers can work on some self-healing rubber too.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/07/21/national/main6698274.shtml [cbsnews.com]

  • I'm assuming whatever breaks/damages the plastic would also possibly damage the light source?
  • by splerdu (187709) on Friday December 10, 2010 @05:37PM (#34518408)

    This could take packaging to the next level!
    Now, opening that new set of headphones will require the sacrifice of your whole hand, not just a couple of fingers.

  • A Fleshlight I cannot wear out!

  • Just don't fly into any nano-particle fields, or your ship may be destroyed too!

  • First of all, I thought that there were 2 mars rovers, and neither one of them has any problems relating to any plastic shell. Even if either would have a problem that could be fixable with this self repairing plastic, I would *not* like to be on the repair crew.

    So I presume that they are targeting future space robots, and are using the successful rovers for advertising purposes?

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