Advanced Forming Concepts of Metal Foams for Sustainable Applications

  • Hao Pan

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Energy and environmental issues have been drawing increasing attention in recent years. The transportation sector has been a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the automotive and aerospace sector, the increasing demand for space, luxury and safety has led to an increase in weight in many cases, which conflicts with demands for low fuel consumption. To achieve the required reductions in weights without sacrificing strength and safety, the demand is increasing for light-weight stiff materials that could replace conventional dense metals. Metal foams offer ideal solutions in applications where light-weight needs to be combined with other requirements such as shock and impact absorption, thermal and sound insulations, electromagnetic shielding, etc. Metal foam-based composites such as Aluminum foam sandwich (AFS) panels offer increased stiffness compared to plain foams, and are considered to be candidates for replacing bulk metals in light-weight construction. The introduction of metal foams in actual industrial applications however has been limited due to several reasons, amongst which is their inferior room-temperature ductility, which has been limiting the possibilities of shaping these materials into three-dimensional functional parts. Moreover, deformation behavior of metal foams is still inadequately characterized, which is mainly due to the complex nature of their structural build-up. The objective of this research is to enhance the applicability of light-weight and stiff Aluminum foams and aluminum foam sandwich (AFS) panels in green transportation and other sustainable applications, through improving their formability into functional components with complex geometries and intricate details. This is achieved by characterizing the mechanical behavior of Aluminum foams and AFS panels under uniaxial tensile and compressive loading at variable temperatures and deformation rates. Constitutive relations of the deformation behavior are developed and incorporated into numerical simulations of various forming processes using the finite element software ABAQUS. Simulation results are validated by experimental observations obtained from actual forming processes. The results demonstrate the possibility of applying advanced forming techniques, such as gas pressure forming, to shape Aluminum foam parts and two-dimensional AFS panels into three-dimensional complex components, while preserving to good extent the multi-functional porous nature of the material.
Date of Award2012
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorMarwan Khraisheh (Supervisor)


  • Metal foams
  • Sustainable aquaculture.

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