Research and development activities have been a foundational stone for almost all markets worldwide for over a while now. This has now enabled various researchers to seek information and work on introducing interesting materials that can help shape the future. One such material is the metal foam.
Metal foams are generally made up of a solid metal, with gas-filled pores inside, which is why they are one of the highly acclaimed materials in the aerospace and automotive industries, as these sectors call in for the demand for lightweight components and materials. These materials boast of some intrinsic applications in various industries including construction, automotive, and others, fostering the metal foam market outlook.
Increasing toxic CO2 level challenge & the impact of metal foams on the automotive industry
Rising levels of toxic carbon emissions from vehicle stands to be one of the pressing challenges for the automotive sector. This has indeed compelled the carmakers to consider building a possible solution for reducing the emissions, introducing the concept of light weighting. It has been reported that on an average, over 100 kg of mass reduction can be achieved on a passenger car saves about 9 gram of CO2 per kilometer at the car exhaust.
On this note, it would be essential to take into consideration the application of metal foams in automobile components. High porosity in metal foams make them a highly potential candidate to absorb the large amount of mechanical energy, reducing the vibrations and ability of sound absorption which can be well exploited in the vehicles. As per requirement raised by automakers, metal foams of different metals have been developed, such as from magnesium, aluminum, iron, and others.
One of the hypercar makers who potentially made a transition from composites to metal is Lamborghini. The leading automaker had in 2016 announced the launch of Infierno, which was built by material engineers who were looking to develop a porous metal. As per official records, the Infierno components have been realized via an exotic steel based metal foam. The material is developed through a process that indicates a transformation from liquid to sold state, a technique well acclaimed for different metals like silver, copper, and aluminum.
Moreover, in a recent study of 2019, it was observed that 2 material scientists at Saarland University had developed a range of lightweight and strong metallic foams that were capable of improving the impact of protection systems in cars, while also being able to reduce the momentum of and absorb the shock waves produced by a detonation.
It would be surprising to note that the idea of development of lightweight metallic foam by these scientists came from the bones. Although bones are strong and stable while being able to cope with loads almost as well as steel, they are extremely light. This inspired the researchers to bring forth a revolutionary product in automotive manufacturing.
However, one of the revolutionary researches in the global metal foam industry, that paved way for an all new application arena for the product has to be 2016’s research wherein scientists announced developing a metallic foam that shatters bullet.
As per news reports, the researchers of North Carolina State and US Army Research, Development and Engineering Center had potentially combined multiple bullet-restricting materials into a single piece of armor. Boasting of a thickness of just 25 mm, the armor constitutes of ceramics as the attack face, aluminum 7075 panels as backplates, and composite metal foam treated by powder metallurgy technique as a bullet KE absorber interlayer.
It has been speculated that the newly designed armor has the ability to stop a bullet with a little less than an inch of foam. Apparently, this scientific innovation has opened up lucrative opportunities for the overall metal foam market over the span of 2021 to 2027.
Moving further, metal foams are also expected to come really handy in the healthcare sector. The validation for the abovementioned statements runs back to 2015’s novel innovation where the scientists at North Carolina State University had declared developing a strong and lightweight composite metal foam which is capable of blocking X-rays, neutron, and gamma rays radiation. The material also boasts of the ability to be used in space exploration, nuclear safety, and medical technology.