SBIR Phase I: Low-Cost Metal Foams Produced by Novel Manufacturing Technique
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
Sommer Materials Research
587 North Main Street, North Salt Lake, UT, 84054
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I will develop a novel method to fabricate low-cost foamed aluminum materials that will exhibit high-energy absorption capability, high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios. There has been a significant interest in porous metal foams for use in the automotive, marine, and aerospace industries. Most methods of producing the metal foams are quite expensive and cannot be easily scaled up to mass production. Commercially available foamed materials are sometimes difficult to machine or to join because of the presence of abrasive ceramic particles within the metal matrix required for the foaming process. This novel foaming process will be capable of producing closed-cell foamed aluminum panel or rod forms in various cell sizes and densities using a low-cost manufacturing approach. The foamed aluminum will be produced at lower cost in comparison to current state-of-the-art foaming methods. The foamed aluminum can be used in automotive and aerospace applications requiring high strength and stiffness to weight ratios. The broader impact from this technology would be an aluminum foaming technology that could be more versatile, economical, and tailorable than current foaming processes. Conventional machining and welding techniques can be used to shape and join the foamed aluminum. The foaming technology will also be applicable to other metal systems, such as copper and magnesium. The foaming process will open a wide range of technological applications within the aerospace, architectural, marine, and automotive industries, due to the material's high strength and stiffness to weight ratio. Lightweight foamed aluminum will enable high fuel efficiencies and improved crashworthiness through energy absorption in automobiles and aircraft. The foamed aluminum material should exhibit high sound-absorption capabilities and be more structurally isotropic than honeycomb aluminum panels. Lightweight foamed aluminum can be used in architectural applications for signs and panels- by itself or in sandwiched composite panels. The proposed fabrication approach should produce foamed aluminum at 20-40% less cost in comparison to conventional powder metallurgy techniques.
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