Self-healing materials have emerged as an alternative solution to the repair of damage in fibre-reinforced composites. Recent developments have largely focused on a vascular approach, due to the ability to transport healing agents over long distances and continually replenish from an external source. However fracture of the vascular network is required to enable the healing agents to infiltrate the crack plane, ceasing its primary function in transporting fluid and preventing the repair of any further damage events. Here we present a novel approach to vascular self-healing through the development and integration of 3D printed, porous, thermoplastic networks into a thermoset matrix. This concept exploits the inherently low surface chemistry of thermoplastic materials, which results in adhesive failure between the thermoplastic network and thermoset matrix on arrival of a propagating crack, thus exposing the radial pores of the network and allowing the healing agents to flow into the damage site. We investigate the potential of two additive manufacturing techniques, fused deposition modeling (FDM) and stereolithography, to fabricate free-standing, self-healing networks. Furthermore, we assess the interaction of a crack with branched network structures under static indentation in order to establish the feasibility of additive manufacture for multi-dimensional 3D printed self-healing networks.

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