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Advances in Smart Polymer Application Solutions

SpecialChem / Donald Rosato – Jan 4, 2010

Smart polymers find applications spanning the gamut from the high-tech, the sophisticated, the novel, right through to the mundane. An ever increasing spectrum of smart polymers based on various stimulus/adaptive property combinations is being developed to satisfy a growing range of applications in automotive, aerospace, medical, consumer, industrial and other market sectors. In aerospace, reflexive composites based on a healable SMP resin can detect/heal damage in load-bearing airframes in less than seven minutes. Designed to mimic the human reflex response, reflexive panels will sense structural damage through an integrated health monitoring system, respond quickly and autonomously to the damage, and heal the area while keeping the operator informed of the healing process. SMPs open new opportunities for variable features in automotive vehicles. The novel materials add new high-tech features while improving vehicle performance at lower cost. SMP actuators/sensors can replace small electric motors or hydraulics. SMPs also improve design flexibility. Automotive designers can use these materials to simplify products, add features, improve performance, or increase reliability with relatively little mechanical complexity. The new materials permit functionality to be 'programmed in' to facilitate inventive designs. BIO-SMP, or biocompatible/biodegradable SMPs are being developed for use in biomedical applications such as stents and sutures. They address many challenges encountered in endoscopic surgery. While endoscopic surgery minimizes scarring, speeds healing, and reduces the risk of infection, it is extremely challenging to accurately carry out in a confined space.

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