2006 Volume 47 Issue 9 Pages 2188-2194
Integral foam moulding (IFM) is an economical way to produce castings with integrated cellular structure, i.e. a solid skin and a foamed core. IFM has been known for polymers for more than four decades and is well established in industrial production. Polymer integral foam parts are accepted as a material system with own properties which simplifies designs, reduces production costs and weight, and increases stiffness and overall strength. On the other hand, integral foam moulding for metals is a new field of research. The development of metal based integral foam moulding processes at WTM moves along analogous paths as that of polymers by transferring and adapting successful moulding technologies for polymer integral foam to metals. Two moulding techniques for metal integral foam are presented, a low and a high pressure process. In the low pressure process, the molten metal charged with blowing agent is injected into a permanent steel mould without completely filling it. In this case, the mould gets eventually filled by foam expansion.
In the high pressure process foaming is initiated by expansion of the mould cavity after it has been filled completely with the mixture of the metal melt and the blowing agent. The moulded parts are characterized with respect to their cellular structure, density profile and pore size distribution. Mechanical properties such as stiffness and damping behaviour are discussed.