Nanocapsule paint might mean the end of scratches and car washing

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A new type of nanocapsule paint might be the end of minor nicks and car washes forever. Photo Credit: Sulfur/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

A group of scientists at the Eindhoven University of Technology, in the Netherlands, have concocted a special paint using nanocapsules, small molecules engineered to behave in a certain way. The nanocapsule paint they’ve concocted is self-sealing, which means a possible end to paint nicks.

Emerging field of nanocapsule paint has promise

There is a coating material technology called nanocapsules which has a lot of promise in a number of applications from cars to planes and just about everything in between. The idea is to create a coating, or a paint, that is self-healing.

In essence, according to Gizmag, the function is not unlike human skin. When skin is cut, at least superficially, the body produces cells which start to fill in the gas in the epidermis, the top layer of skin that covers the body. Self-healing paint similarly has nanoparticles mixed into it that fill in the damaged layers.

It’s relatively new technology, in that it’s less than a decade old and there have been several breakthroughs. A new type of nanocapsule paint developed at a university in the Netherlands, though, could do away with car washes and small dings for good, according to AutoBlog.

On the shoulders of geniuses

According to Gizmag, one of the first nanocapsule paints was devised in 2001 at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaigne, which had molecules that would burst open and fill “scratches” in. Nissan, by 2007, had devised its own proprietary blend called “Scratch Shield,” that the company has made available under license for iPhone cases. Nissan Scratch Shield paint can now be had on its cars, which can “heal” small scratches in an hour and larger ones in a few days.

Several other research groups and companies have devised their own. For instance, according to Wired magazine, scientists from the University of Mississippi devised a nanocapsule coating that reacts to sunlight. Ultraviolet rays activate the coating, fixing scratches with the healing rays of the sun.

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The new type of coating developed by a team led by Dr. Catarina Esteves at the Eindhoven University of Technology, or “TU/e” as its called, devised a nanocapsule coat that not only would be scratch-resistant in the event of minor scrapes, but also dirt-resistant. To restore a car to showroom finish, all it would take is a little rain or a spray of the hose.

Benefit to many industries

The obvious benefit is in automotive applications, as the coating devised by Esteves and her team would mean no more buffing, waxing, or even taking the car to a car wash would be necessary. It would also, according to AutoBlog, be a benefit to the aircraft industry, as it would decrease the need for cleaning but also decrease drag, saving airlines money in plane fuel.

However, it isn’t likely to be appearing on cars at the nearest dealership anytime soon. Dr. Esteves, according to Wired, estimates it won’t be ready on a commercial scale for at least 8 years.






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