Self-Healing Textile: Welcome to the Age of Clothes That Can Heal Themselves

No needles necessary; just add water.

8. 12. 16 by Andy Palma
RMIT University

No sewing necessary

Every invention starts with an idea. And a group of researchers at Pennsylvania State University have a rather great idea—making a piece of torn fabric heal itself.

After years of working on the concept, the team is more than pleased to have created a biodegradable liquid material that allows torn fabric to bind to itself back together, sans needles.

The liquid was developed using bacteria and yeast, and was tested over the last year on commonly worn fabrics such as cotton, wool, and polyester. It was found that the liquid did not alter the quality of the fabric, and that it withstood a wash in a machine just fine.

It is also very easy to use. First, drop a tiny amount of the liquid on the tear. Then, apply warm water; and lastly, press the edges together for about a minute – and, voila! The torn fabric reattaches and self-repairs.

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Penn State

Commercial Applications

Melik Demirel, a professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, led the research and explained how the liquid can work in two different ways: “Textile manufacturers can coat already-made fabric with the liquid. The coated fabric then has a self-repair ability automatically built into it. Additionally, cloth can be made using fiber that’s actually produced with the protein. This way the cloth will inherently have the ability to self-repair with the application of pressure and water.”

Demirel said their creation could help improve clothing worn by soldiers, medical staff, and farmers.

“Science happens in small steps,” said Demirel in a statement. The next step would be to see if clothes can self-repair when we pour the liquid into a washing machine, like you would a detergent, and apply water and heat.”


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