What are cutting mats made of?

The other day one of my students asked me what a self healing cutting mat is made of. I have done a search and only found the “mysterious” phrase “made of a unique self healing composite material”.

Does anyone know what they are made of?
self healing mat.jpg

The primary material in self-healing cutting mats is: “Magic”

With a pixie dust also :slight_smile:

With a pixie dust also

From what I understand, they discontinued making mats using Pixie-Dust as it was determined to be very eco-unfriendly (and socially irresponsible).

In all seriousness though, it’s a good question - I’m curious as to what that material is.

The only polymer I know that is self healing is Ionomers. Could it be that?

Found this document for those that are interested :

hmmm, I always thought “self-healing” was really just marketing speak? I have a big pile of these from a project awhile ago and they all appear to be three layers, and they smell like vinyl…

EDIT: I looked closer, I don’t think these are all “self-healing” Now I’m curious.

I really don’t believe that the mats are self healing. The cuts are still there, its not like they vanish. They just close up tight, and not separate. Kinda like what happens when slicing into silicon or urethane. They are definately made in layers. However what the exact materials are. I have no idea.

ya, those mats don’t real “heal” more like just squish the thin cut together so it’s less prominent. I have enough old mats sitting around that are cut to hell to prove it…

I believe they are vinyl with an inner harder core to give it some rigidity. Most likely some commodity plastic inside like some sort of PE, ABS, or PS.


I’d imagine a softer outer layer on each side that gets “cut” and doesn’t dull blades, and a harder inner core and that doesn’t cut to hold it all together. Makes sense. From what I’ve read, true “self-healing” materials exist in the laboratory, but have yet to be commercialized.

it always reminded me of the trick where you fill a ziploc bag with water and puncture the bag with a sharp pencil and it doesn’t leak. I guess it reminds me of the material’s structure playing a part in the functionality.

I’m not positive but I think I once saw that they were a composite in which there were parallel fibers that that were then “veneered” off a block such that the fibers’ ends faced upwards towards the blade. In other words you are cutting down through something resembling say toothbrush bristles which remain reasonably intact while the surrounding “resin” gets hacked. After the pass of the blade the fibers straighten back up bringing the resin with them.

Mine smells like vinyl.

Wild-ass guess: A type of pre-tensioning. The middle layer has different thermal qualities and shrinks more than the outer layers when cooling. This then encourages the outer layers to squish back together when cut.

I just asked our expert. She said that every different mat can be a different material.

This 2 sided Gingher is PP.

Fiskars’ has a new PP one too. Most are PVC, you can tell by the smell.

It is the actual chemical processing that creates the ‘self healing’ surface. I forgot the name of the chemicals before I got back to my desk sorry. It was at least 14 syllables long.

My desktop/cutting board is a Morn Sun cutting mat 9060, made in Taiwan. There is no PVC odor, two years old now. It definitely heals up after a cut from a knife, almost invisible, no raised edges. Die punches leave a more visible mark, but no depth, even if hammered in. This is a photo of a section.
cutting mat section.jpg
I need a microscope to see closer, but clearly the surface material layers are filled with a particle substance or foamed.
Center core is hard material which is not PE or PP (burn test does not reveal any of the most common thermoplastics I recognize) and harder to a knife point, and is self extinguishing in a flame.

I think there is a temptation to assume that it is just a sheet of stock plastic with printing on it, but it appears there is a complex solution arrived at in this one, and it performs very well.