Composite material made of metal and hollow glass beads
Designers are always on the lookout for glossy metals that have a high-quality appearance, yet are light and easy to handle. Fraunhofer researchers have won the International Forum Design's IF gold award for a composite material made of metal. This is how it works: The Bremen-based scientists insert hollow glass balls measuring a maximum of 60 micrometers into the metal during casting. "If the glass balls are evenly distributed, we get a smooth surface that feels absolutely smooth like metal. If the glass content is unevenly distributed, the material gets a distinctive new appearance, full of streaks," says Dr. Jörg Weise of the foundry technology working group in the Shaping and Functional Materials branch of the institute. Although the material is extremely porous, it looks as smooth as metal and weighs only a fraction of the amount: As an example, the density of aluminum is reduced from 2.7 grams per cubic centimeter to only 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter, and that of zinc from seven grams per cubic centimeter to less than half, or only 3.1 grams per cubic centimeter.
Source: fraunhofer.deAdded: 14 February 2007