Non-stick toilet bowl eliminates skidmarks, even after sandpapering
Chinese researchers claim they've come up with a novel 3D-printed toilet bowl, impregnated with lubricant, that'll make toilet brushes redundant. Unlike non-stick coatings, this one stays slippery even if you sandpaper it until it's wafer-thin.
The very existence of toilet brushes, as I've lamented at length before, is up there with death itself as one of the few rude reminders of our base animal nature that manage to pierce our modern consciousness.
You can wear all the Gucci you like, you can drive a Bentley and consort with royalty, but you've still got this unspeakable shame loitering in the corner of your bathroom, because you're a hollow tube with eyes, and sometimes you do poops that stick to the porcelain bowl.
Not to all bowls; there are non-stick spray-on coatings for toilets – but like non-stick pots and pans in the kitchen, they become less slippery over time as the treatment wears away.
But now, researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology say they've created a new super-slippery toilet bowl that stays slick and poop-free even if you sandpaper it down to nearly nothing.
The Abrasion-Resistant Super-Slippery Flush Toilet (ARSSFT) – a name that'll raise some eyebrows in Britain – is 3D-printed in a mixture of plastic and hydrophobic sand grains, using a selective laser sintering technique that creates "a self-supporting 3D complex shape but also with a porous structure that can accommodate considerable lubricants for an abrasion-resistant super-slippery property."
Thus, when the material is lubricated with silicon oil, it penetrates deep into the material and stays there.
The researchers tested a miniature ARSSFT bowl with "various liquids such as milk, yogurt, highly sticky honey, and starch gel mixed congee," as well as several different grades of "sticky synthetic feces," and found that nothing would stick. They did a flush test, running eight liters of water through the bowl, and found it didn't affect adhesion.
The team then subjected the surface to 1,000 cycles of sandpaper abrasion, and abused it with a file and a Stanley knife, finding that it "maintains its record-breaking super-slippery capability."
The researchers don't appear to have any plans for going into the toilet business at this stage – and indeed, the 3D printing process would be such a departure from traditional toilet manufacturing that it's unlikely to be tempting to existing toilet builders. But somebody might be able to make a go of it; the team hopes it'll make it to mass production someday, to help cut down water use.