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Aluminum foam can be manufactured applying a variety of methods including direct foaming of aluminum alloy melts and advanced metal powder processing. Complex-shaped foam components and 3D-shaped sandwich panels consisting of foam cores and aluminum face sheets can be produced. The application potential of these materials is discussed for various fields, namely light-weight construction, crash energy absorption and thermal or sound insulation. Various case studies are presented—a lifting arm for a lorry, a crash box for a car, an impact energy absorber for a tram, a motor bracket for a car and a transverse beam for a machine. Ultra-light metal foams became an attractive research field both from the scientific and industrial applications view points. Closed-cell metal foams, in particular aluminum alloy (Al-alloy) ones can be used as lightweight, energy-absorption and damping structures in different industrial sectors, detaining an enormous potential when transportation is concerned. Aluminum foams are isotropic porous materials with several unusually properties, that make them especially suited for some applications. Due to their low densities between 0.3 g/cm3 and 0.8 g/cm3 the foams can float in water (in case of closed porosity). Foams exhibit a reduced conductivity for both heat and electricity. The strength is lower than conventional dense aluminum and declines with decreasing density. Foams are stable at temperatures up to the melting point. They are incombustible and non-toxic.
Aluminum Metal Foam
Automotive applications: There is a move towards reducing weight in vehicles. Another requirement is the improvement of the passive safety of cars, which is mainly influenced by the choice of materials and the car design. Also important are all aspects of materials recycling. The background the good energy and sound absorbing properties of the aluminum foam support the use of foams in passenger cars. Three main applications of metallic foams can become important in a car – energy absorption, lightweight construction and insulation.
Due to its lightweight aluminum foams can become important for the aerospace industry. For example, aluminum foam sheets or sandwich panels could replace the expensive honeycomb structures. This would have several advantages, for example reduced costs. Another important advantage is the isotropy of the properties of such panels and the absence of any kind of adhesive bonding. The latter could help to maintain the integrity of the structure in cases of fire. However, an important issue, which is addressed in current investigations, is the fatigue behavior of aluminum foams and panels.
Aluminum Metal Foam: In ships the need for lightweight materials is also important. But, in comparison with cars, a high flexibility of materials processing is needed, because ships are not built in large series and are not built with highly standardized parts. Therefore aluminum foams or panels can have great advantages. Prerequisite for the use will the development of suitable fastening elements and the investigation of corrosion of aluminum foams in salt water. First investigations on closed-cell-PM-foams showed, that a sodium chloride solution could enter only the uppermost layer of the foam without causing structural defects.
Casting that are used in cars are often made with weight-saving cavities. These cavities can be filled with aluminum foams in such a way that foamed parts replace the sand cores, which is usually used for the preparation of cavities. The foam parts does not have to be removed after casting. This method accomplishes closed lightweight sections in the casting and creates internal configurations (stiffeners) not feasible with sand cores. Also relatively small cross-sections can be filled up with foamed cores. Besides the additional stiffening effect the use of foams has several other advantages, for example an increase of the capability of castings to absorb crash energy. They suppress noise and vibration of the structure.
Aluminum Metal Foam : it is possible to make light-weighing rolls with aluminum foam filling. Foams can also serve as heat exchangers, heat shields, filters or carriers for catalysts. Another possibility is the use as electromagnetic wave shielding materials. Foams can be used for ceilings and walls of rooms containing electronic equipment.
Aluminum Metal Foam :Because of its interesting, unique surface aluminum foam offer a great potential for designers. It can be used for lamps, tables or household articles and accessories. In combination with wood the surface of the aluminum foam can bring new effects into a room. Furniture made out of foam is light weighing, which can be a great advantage in offices or at fairs and exhibitions. Building and construction applications are good possibilities for the use of aluminum foams mainly because of their good fire penetration resistance and thermal insulation properties. For example foam parts or foam-filled panels can be used as elements in facades on the outside of buildings or wall coverings inside of buildings. In both cases aluminum foams can serve as energy saving elements because of their good thermal insulation properties. Aluminum foams panels can be used as sound absorbing materials in railway tunnels, under highway bridges or inside of building. As an example Figure an Alporas-foam laid on the underside of an elevated expressway for noise absorption. A sound absorbing structure is laid on a noise reflecting surface of an elevated viaduct to absorb the vehicle noise, thus relieving the noise nuisance to the neighborhood residents.
Another field of application are light-weighing structural elements. These can be used for mobile bridges. Aluminum foams or foam panels could also be used for reducing the energy consumption of elevators by a lightweight construction. Due to its lightweight, aluminum foams are easy to handle. They can be easily installed without mechanical lifting equipment. This is perfect for high locations, for example ceilings, walls and roofs.