We have many polymer companies in North America-some of the biggest companies in the world. Yet it was scientists - and a 'happy accident' - from IBM Research who successfully discovered a new class of polymer materials that offer the potential to transform manufacturing and fabrication in the fields of transportation, aerospace and microelectronics.
Using a unique approach of combining high performance computing with synthetic polymer chemistry, these new materials are the first to demonstrate resistance to cracking, strength higher than bone, the ability to reform to their original shape (self-heal), all while being completely recyclable back to their starting material.
This material is a thermoset, which means it is very stable in terms of both temperature and mechanical properties, and typically can't be recycled because once it has been molded it is not reversible. A bad thermoset part is total scrap. It can't be reground and reused in new parts like a thermoplastic part can be.