Featherweight metal

Metal foams, full of tiny air bubbles like a sponge cake, are gradually making inroads in industrial applications. Lightness and high energy absorption are two demanded material characteristics. Less known is the use of open-pored variants for decorative purposes. Interior designers can make use of an endless variety of decorative panels to realize their plans. Room dividers and suspended ceilings divide up the space in an apartment or office, but they are also expected to be more or less permeable to light, air or sound. A class of materials that meets this requirement is open-pored metal foams.

A stylish effect can be achieved by filling the interconnected pores with a transparent synthetic resin or colored plastic. The closely related closed-pore metal foams are already making headway in numerous applications. Their low weight predestines them for use in light but rigid assemblies in machines with moving parts. They are used as shock absorbers in vehicles, due to their excellent capacity to convert kinetic energy into resilience and heat. As catalysts their high internal surface area is used. The most common technique for manufacturing metal foams involves mixing metal powders with blowing agents. Now the mixture gets heated up. As it approaches melting point, the additive releases a gas which creates a mass of bubbles in the metal. Open-pored foam panels cannot be manufactured this way, because the pores extend through from one face to the other.

Source: m-pore.deAdded: 4 January 2006