Consisting of solid metal, a is a cellular structure with gas filled pores containing a large portion of the volume. These pores can be either interconnected (open-cell foam) or sealed (closed-cell foam). Only 5% to 25% of the volume of metal foam is base metal. Its high porosity makes it ultra-light material and this material gets the strength of from square-cube law. Metal foams can be made using materials such as tantalum, titanium, and aluminum.
Metal foams are manufactured by creating air bubbles in the metallic melts. Due to high buoyancy forces these air bubbles tend to rise to the surface in the high-density liquid. This can be prevented by increasing the viscosity of molten metal. Metal foam finds its application in the manufacturing of vehicle parts, vessels, and components in machines. However, its application in automobile industry is gaining popularity as it provides a high strength structure with less weight. Using metal foams in vehicle parts reduces vibration and noise, increases stiffness, and absorbs impact energy, thus ensuring the vehicle performs well on road.
The closed-cell foams find their applications in structures that require load bearing features. They are also used for manufacturing of impact-absorbing and weight-saving structures in vehicles. Whereas, the open-cell foams are used for sound and vibration absorption applications. These are also used for filtration and catalysis for heat exchange. Furthermore they used in manufacturing of medical devices.
New research studies are favor of the use of titanium and tantalum alloys bone implant materials due to their biocompatibility and suitable physical properties. It is important to note that several research are underway to find new applications of metal foams and new types of metal foams. For instance, in November 2015, researchers at ETH Zurich, Switzerland have created an ultra-light foam from gold, which could be used in applications demanding low weight and high strength applications. The research and development in the field of metal foam is expected to create various new applications for metal foams, thus creating an environment conducive to the growth of the global metal foams market.
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