Conference Dates

May 22-27, 2016


Metal foams are an interesting class of materials with very low specific weight and unusual physical, mechanical and acoustic properties due to the porous structure (1). These materials are currently manufactured by means of several conventional processes (2), limited by the impossibility to produce foams with complex geometry. This paper deals with the study of an innovative method to produce complex shaped precursors for aluminum foams through cold gas dynamic spray deposition process (CGDS), aluminum alloy (AlSi12) and titanium-hydride (TiH2) being the metal and the blowing agent, respectively. However, the success of this approach strongly depends on the achievement of a homogenous and deep mixing between AlSi12 and TiH2 fine powders, belonging to group C of Geldart’s classification. Classical mixing methods (such as tumbling mixers, convective mixers, high-shear mixers, etc.) are suitable for large non-cohesive particles (> 30µm) but not for micronic particles (3), agglomerated due to strong interparticle forces. Alternatively, new wet and dry mixing techniques have been proposed for fine particles (4), suffering from different disadvantages: additional steps of filtration/drying are needed for wet methods, whereas, dry methods generally involves the reduction of the granulometry and the damaging or contamination of the original powders. The sound assisted fluidization technology (140dB-80Hz) has been adopted in this work to overcome the technical issues of mixing cohesive powders (5), thus obtaining a mixing to the scale of the primary particles in a simple, economic, not intrusive and not destructive way (the properties and morphology of the original particles were preserved). Therefore, the mixed powders were then sprayed by means of the proposed CGDS process on a stainless steel sheet to obtain the precursor. This was then heated up in a furnace at 600°C for 10 minutes to obtain the foam. In particular, two different types of mixtures with 1 wt% and 2.5 wt% of TiH2 were investigated; moreover, air compressed as well as helium were used as CGDS carrier gas in order to ensure a higher impact velocity and a better compacting of the powders. A very efficient mixing of powders has been achieved as confirmed by SEM/EDS analysis performed on samples taken from the sound assisted fluidized bed (Fig.1a) and by the time-dependence of the mixing degree (Fig.1b). Macrographs of created porous structures (Fig.2) showed that the coupling of sound assisted fluidization and CGDS process under optimal conditions is a promising and effective technique in manufacturing aluminum precursors for metal foams.

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