This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Hans-Wolfgang Seeliger*
Much work has been done to find commercially efficient applications for metal foams produced using the powder metallurgical route. Most of these efforts have not been successful, because foam quality could not be reproduced reliably and production methods were too inefficient. This article describes the conditions under which aluminum foam sandwich parts may be put into series production in an economical way.
Recent research work at the Karmann company and its partners (IFAM Bremen and the Schunk/Honsel development association) has focused on volume production of aluminum foam sandwich (AFS) parts. The high potential of AFS with respect to volume production and the properties of the material soon became clear. In 1998, the first concept car with AFS parts was presented at the Detroit Motor Show. So many visitors were interested in the car that the development group decided to establish the prerequisites for series production of this vehicle. It soon became apparent that there was a lot of basic development and research work to be done in the fields of production engineering, material production, reproducibility, joining and cutting techniques, fatigue, and quality management. Consequently the start-up of the pilot plant had to be postponed from 2000. Since then all questions concerning material production, production engineering, and joining and cutting techniques may be considered answered: solutions have been found for the fundamental problems and no more serious difficulties are expected. In the field of quality management, basic examinations have taken place and future work will show which procedures to chose for testing structural parts. Fatigue does not seem to pose a serious problem, as fissures show on the surface of the sandwich structure and are easily detectable. A real impediment to volume production of AFS sandwich parts is the inherent variability of the foam structure and thus the properties of the parts. Recently, progress has been made in this area. A qualified production process makes it possible to minimize the number of flaws. It is also possible to give a first realistic estimate of the costs of material and parts. Foaming still poses a problem: this process is not fully understood. Extremely good foam qualities can be achieved, but
quality is too variable for efficient commercial application: on-going tests should find a solution soon. Another important aspect is the expected commercial potential of AFS, primarily from future applications. It is not only the automobile industry that offers application possibilities for AFS but also mechanical engineering, transport, shipbuilding, sports equipment, and consumer goods. AFS parts will mainly replace flat steel, aluminum, or composites. The lower weight of AFS parts is the major advantage, but the construction simplification resulting from integral construction methods made possible by sandwich structures is also important. Material and production costs are an important factor for the commercial success of AFS since only a commercially successful material will achieve the necessary production volume. We examine this aspect in more detail below.
2. Areas of Development
To successfully place a new material on the market, a number of joining technologies have to be developed for assembling, placing, cutting, and joining the parts. These technologies may have a big impact on the costs of production, parts, and products. AFS technology offers a number of advantages here. Although AFS is a sandwich material, which in general would imply higher processing costs, in some cases it is possible to chose cost saving processing techniques, since AFS is a pure metal sandwich material.
[*] Dr. H.-W. Seeliger Karmann GmbH Karmannstr. 1 D-49084 Osnabrück (Germany) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVANCED ENGINEERING MATERIALS 2002, 4, No. 10
Ó 2002 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
1438-1656/02/1010-0753 $ 17.50+.50/0
2. AFS technology requires special constructions as well as joining techniques. a) b) Laser welding AFS-Surface AFS-Surface Core Area 12 mm a) b) c) 12 mm c) Fig. The advantages of these techniques include flexible application possibilities. Bolt/Pin Welding Another joining technology of considerable interest for AFS sandwiches is that of welding bolts (Fig. c) bolt/ pin welding. Welding rates for manual TIG welding reach 0. No. usually the part has to be turned.M8 Blind riveting.2 mm. In order to weld face sheets of 1. Nd:YAG by hand. Different welding techniques for AFS: a) laser welding. has no impact on the Process Laser welding TIG welding MIG welding Pin/bolt welding Punch riveting Riveting nuts/screws Flow drilling Riveting Bonding Details CO2-Laser. As shown in Figure 1a. By bluntly welding sandwiches. The welding process is completely controlled and monitored with the help of a welding head with a linear motor. Fig. a maximum speed of 10 m/min has been achieved.3 m/min. c) flow drilling. Joining Technologies To be able to exploit the advantages of AFS technology efficiently. In welding flat AFS sheets with linear joints.4. the core layer remains intact in the welding area. only the face sheets are bonded. These bolts do not transfer high forces but are employed for fixing cable bundles and wires or as electrical contacts. while the core layers remain unaffected. those for MIG welding reach 0.Seeliger/Manufacture of Aluminum Foam Sandwich (AFS) Components RESEARCH NEWS Table 1. Both techniques are suitable for joining two AFS parts or for joining AFS parts to aluminum parts. This technology can make allowance for variations in the thickness of the sandwich. b) riveting nuts and screws. Overview of joining techniques for AFS. AFS parts may be joined by a variety of possible processes.and MIG-welding (Fig.1. and the low investment costs. 4. 1c). TIG/MIG Welding Welding of AFS parts by common welding techniques is also possible. As in laser welding. 1b). by robot by hand. AFS/steel M4 . thus decreasing the welding speed to < 5 m/min. The high stiffness of AFS sandwich parts. 754 ADVANCED ENGINEERING MATERIALS 2002. Laser Welding The process of laser welding is suitable for series production. 2. mechanized AFS/aluminum. partly mechanized. The fundamental techniques worth mentioning are TIG.3 m/min. the filigree cell structure is not damaged by local thermal impact. When both face sheets have to be bonded. only the face sheets have to be welded. adjusted to the characteristics of sandwich parts.1.3. 1. Splay riveting 1-K and 2-K systems 2. 2.1. and the resulting low thermal distortion rate minimize the need for clamping and fixing the parts. their low thermal conductivity. 10 . Partly mechanized welding with a linear carriage may achieve a speed up to 1. b) TIG welding. Different joining techniques for AFS: a) punch riveting. 2. Even welding a bolt directly onto a flaw. the amount of experience in this field. The most important ones are listed in Table 1. As with the other techniques. it is not sufficient to exchange highly stressed parts with AFS parts. such as a void or a large pore.1.2.8 m/min. 3 kW power is required.M8 M4 .
and especially the choice of an adequate bonding system.5. they can only partly be applied to AFS parts due to their sandwich structure. 3). 2. one has to make sure that both face sheets are cut in one go (Fig. but regains the original mechanical values of the non-distorted sandwich at maximum compression. riveting is very suitable. Frictional heat is generated by a multi-polygon that is pressed onto the face sheet in axial direction at a high revolution rate/speed. This technology allows AFS parts to be excellently integrated into the surrounding structure. Riveting Nuts and Screws Another possible joining technique consists of riveting nuts and screws (Fig. To cut a sandwich of 12 mm you need a laser capacity of 5 kW.1. It is rather employed to fix holders and devices. 3. The aluminum foam between the face layers will melt more than the deck layers and takes up to the lower cut. 2. 4). The length of the formed hole wall will be three to five times the thickness of the face material. Laser Cutting As all common mechanical cutting techniques lead to a strong deformation of the cut edges. a construction adapted for bonding. 2. Owing to the high surface pressure you will find plastic deformations on the face sheets. 5). such a joint cannot transfer high forces. The strength of today's bonding systems can exceed the physical values of the aluminum foam cores. depending on the thickness of the AFS parts and the face sheet. 2.1. Figure 2a shows the joining area and a section through the fusion. punch riveting has been favored in recent years. Especially in mixed constructions. Bonding of AFS. ADVANCED ENGINEERING MATERIALS 2002. 2. The material becomes plastic and easily formable. 2c) is an alternative to riveting nuts.2.1. Laser cutting does not lead to these deformations. One of the main advantages of bonding consists in the optimal transmission of the applied forces.8 m/min. its tensile strength drops to a value of 50 % plastic deformation.6. A coated thread cutter is used at a revolution rate of 500 rpm. Laser cutting of an AFS part. The size of the nuts and screws may range from M4 to M10. The mechanical values of compression strength and shear stress decrease in this range but they stabilize again at a low level under static or dynamic load. thus decreasing the quality of the lower cut (Fig.1.7. Flow Drilling Flow drilling (Fig. 2. This property is a result of the increasing mechanical clutching of the collapsed cell structures and the similarly increasing friction. 4. Adhesive Bonding AFS with face sheets of aluminum may be bonded with the same technology as conventional aluminum sheets (Fig. Riveting AFS parts may also be riveted.Seeliger/Manufacture of Aluminum Foam Sandwich (AFS) Components RESEARCH NEWS quality of the bonding as the joining zone is limited to the face sheet. No. Different technologies have been validated concerning their commercial efficiency and their feasibility in the production process. 2. This is very promising.2.9. The minimum speed for flow drilling is about 2400 rpm at a spindle moment of 1.1. The same parameters have to be respected: the creation of a defined surface.1. If AFS is strongly compressed (> 35 %). The lifetime of the flow former and the thread cutter amounts to 10 000 drills and threads.8. Cutting Technologies After foaming further processing techniques are necessary to give AFS parts their final outline. 4. The cutting speed is about 0. 10 755 . Punch riveting has been used since 1994 in the construction of the Audi A8 and reached a peak in the construction of the Audi A2 with 1800 rivets per car. Studies of the settling properties of the core layer have shown another positive characteristic of AFS sandwiches.5 kW. Punch Riveting Owing to the increase of mixed constructions and the problem of thermal impact on the structure by assembling parts by welding. when applied to AFS. You will get a defined drill-hole and the material of the face sheets flows into the core. 2b). Nevertheless. Fig. but so far only feasibility studies have been carried out. It is important to choose a relatively large diameter of the rivet head since too small a diameter leads to a fastening pressure of the rivet that compresses the core. Adhesive Perma Bond E32 6 mm Fig.
The comparison of converting AFS and equally thick aluminum alloy parts showed a significant difference in their behavior.2. The relation of core to face layer is 1/1. Deep Drawing of AFS In this special case. Tests did not show a separation of core and face layer.1. 8b). 2. Water jet cut AFS plate.3. In order to avoid this. Standard Optimized Cutting 4. starting with the cut out sheet optimized to the part.4 mm.4 (Fig. Sawing (with an ordinary circular saw) is the easiest way to cut a flat AFS part. and may thus be cut with a tool (Fig. cut with a tool. In order to increase the cutting speed.4 mm has to be finished. 3. The goal is to achieve a grade of processing close to the final outline with no burr at all: or at least one that can easily be removed. which can settle in the porous core layer. by deep drawing. Sawing Fig. 10 . 6. 5. Fig. the production technology of AFS parts in series production is described here. the cooled part is pressed back into its previous shape at the edges. 4. The correct choice of rolling parameters helps to avoid deformation of the surface sheet. Production Steps for Making AFS Parts Taking the back assembly of the Mercedes CLK convertible as an example.Seeliger/Manufacture of Aluminum Foam Sandwich (AFS) Components RESEARCH NEWS Laser Cutting. Fissures may easily be detected at the surface: a crack in the core layer leads to a visible local reduction of material. 2.1. cutting gases with reactive components can be used. Water Jet Cutting Another way of cutting AFS parts is by using a water jet. 7). Cutting parameters have been optimized so that the consumption of saw blades is comparable to that of cutting aluminum. 6). b) deep drawn AFS-sheet (MB-A208 assembly part). but nevertheless offers advantages due to the low investment costs and the high cutting speed. so during any final painting process paint may leak into the part. 8a). After foaming the edges are covered with a sort of skin (ªfoaming skinº). so we expect some contamination for the following painting steps (Fig. 7. Cutting with Tools AFS sandwiches can be cut with tools. a sheet of 1050 mm 500 mm 3. All production steps will be analyzed. 756 ADVANCED ENGINEERING MATERIALS 2002. since the water contains small abrasive particles. Millng 12 mm Optimized Cutting from both sides 2. The condensed material is now impermeable to liquids.2. Washing still leaves some particles in the core layer. Should it be possible in future to produce adequate lightweight alloy combinations it might even be possible to con- Water jet cutted holes 150 mm Water jet cutted lines a b Fig. This technique poses a problem. Conversion may be achieved with the help of a tool (Fig.2 mm Fig. different concepts. This cutting technique is limited to linear cuts. or by a hydromechanical deformation process (for complex parts). 8.4. a) AFS 1050 mm 500 mm 3. No. 3. This skin is not impermeable to liquids.2. AFS sandwich. The edges then have the same behavior and density as aluminum. Cutting of AFS sandwiches.
00 25.00 30. AFS precursor material was compared with other existing sandwich structures with respect to the costs. Furthermore.6 mm with solid aluminum material.00 Norm.00 10.00 20. Of course. and Final Cutting In most cases it is necessary to add finishing touches to the foamed parts. At first. Foaming Foaming is the main step in the production of AFS parts. For a given bending stiffness of a certain part. In the given example. No.00 15. Therefore the sandwich height is uniform a Fig. Meanwhile it is compared to steel or aluminum because of its wide range of applications and its part in the replacement competition taking place.00 0. b 4.3. Cost Issues One of the main reasons for developing AFS was to invent a low budget alternative to conventional sandwich structures and thus to allow its use in mass production. we compare an AFS sandwich panel with a surface layer of 0. Bendingstiffness [N/mm ] 3 Surface weight [kg/m ] 2 60.00 40. and another 30 s for the foam structure to cool.00 Surface Weight and Bendingstiffness of AFS/Aluminum 18000.00 35.00 80. 10a. But this shows how interesting it is to employ AFS for structurally important parts. 4. 10. Divergence solely depends on the geometry of the parts.6 mm 0. Foamed AFS assembly part.00 0. 10 757 .00 40. ADVANCED ENGINEERING MATERIALS 2002. As soon as the boundaries are compressed to the initial height.00 70.00 Bendingstiffness 8000.00 12000.00 Surface Weight with equal Bendingstiffness 30. Completely new techniques have to be invented in order to be able to foam parts of a reproducible quality in a short period of time for series production.1. General Limits on Precursor Material In the case of AFS there is no point in merely comparing the material costs. a mere comparison of the costs does not take into consideration the advantages of the alloy concerning its capacity.2.6 mm 6000. b) final cut with holes. This means we have to compare a precursor with raw material. a) Calibrated part.00 AFS Surfaces 0.00 10000.00 Total height h [mm] Fig.00 4000.Seeliger/Manufacture of Aluminum Foam Sandwich (AFS) Components RESEARCH NEWS struct parts of the bodywork with AFS. the whole construction would be adjusted to the new material. 45 s for foaming. the solid material weighs five times more than if it is made of AFS. 4. In this case. In Figure 11 the area weight and bending stiffness of aluminum sheets and AFS are compared. 11.00 Weight 2000. as we are talking about an alloy.00 50. This processing technique offers a low budget alternative to laser cutting.b). This also implies that an AFS sheet may cost five times as much as the aluminum sheet without being more expensive. Concepts have been worked out and are being tested at the moment. Problems known from honeycomb structures do not exist.00 10. This would also imply a reduction in the minimal radius of bending. that is. Calibration. at only one fifth of its weight and having the same stiffness. 90.00 5. It is obvious that a constant foam height is achieved. different sandwich heights cannot be achieved by merely using a tool as an obstacle: the surface layers are too stiff for this and the foaming pressure inside the sandwich is too low. 9. The part in Figure 9 needs 40 s for heating. five times more material would be needed to achieve the capacity of the AFS parts. 3. Surface weight and bending stiffness of AFS. During foaming. 3. Fig. Boundary Closing. so that the difference would be less dramatic.00 20. Figure 11 allows one to determine the according area weight.00 AFS Surfaces 0.00 Bendingstiffness Aluminum Sheet 14000. the part can get its final cut and necessary holes can be punched (Figs. Figure 6a shows how the part can be calibrated.00 Weight Aluminum Sheet 16000.
Haus der Technik. No.9 00 0 .7 00 0 . Fügen und Trennen von AluminiumschaumSandwichen.0 mm Decrease of material cost by optimisation of the manufacturing process of AFS Aluminum t=2. Steel 0.3 00 0 . the specific costs of AFS fall short of those for steel or magnesium. Beichelt. 5. The two columns show the cost development with dependency on the production amount and technique in the future.6 00 0 . especially in automobile applications due to the high production effort and costs. AFS offers the possibility to economically produce sandwich parts with mass production techniques.2/ foamed 9 mm Fig. 48±55 (ISSN 0040-1439). pp.75 Euro/kg Aluminum 2 Euro/kg AFS Magnesium 7. Technische Mitteilungen 1/01. the bending stiffness determines the capacity of the part.0 00 10 9 8 Precursor Material Costs normalisied to steel C o s t S p e c ific B e n d in g S tiffn e s s 0 .5 times those of aluminum. AFS can already compete with aluminum at a price of 15 Euro per kg. 2001.2 00 0 .5 Euro/kg 5. Expected Material Costs Figure 12 presents the material costs of AFS normalized to steel with those of aluminum. it is important to achieve knowledge of all parameters necessary for foam production for a further development of AFS. 10 . 14). Cost per m2 with equal bending stiffness. Anwendungen und Eigenschaften dreidimensionaler Sandwiche aus Alumniumschaum. In particular. Haus der Technik. 4. Technische Mitteilungen 1/01. Figure 13 also gives the absolute area weights showing that AFS is the most lightweight material.0 00 Steel 0. If you divide the material dependant bending stiffness values (Fig. Summary Whereas in the past it was not economical to produce sandwich parts. The production and processing techniques presented above show that in the near future series applications are possible.2/ foamed 9 mm AFS t=2. With area construction. Seeliger. 160 140 120 C osts/m w ith equal B ending Stiffness 2 Euro/m 2 100 80 60 40 20 0 Weight 43 kg Weight 21 kg Weight 19 kg Weight 6 kg Weight 6 kg ±  H.5 00 0 .-W.75 Euro/kg Aluminum 2 Euro/kg Magnesium 7. 43±47 (ISSN 0040-1439). 12.Seeliger/Manufacture of Aluminum Foam Sandwich (AFS) Components RESEARCH NEWS 11 Cost spec. The goal is to achieve material costs of 2±2. 4. 13) by the weight you get the specific bending stiffness in relation to the price per square meter (Fig. The development of the precursor costs in the future also shows that AFS might be used in parts that have previously been made of steel due to its low price. pp. C. a construction designed to the material and the possibility to produce a high amount of AFS of a reliable quality are prerequisites for an efficient application. Fig.1 00 0 .5 Euro/kg AFS 5.4 00 0 . ______________________ 758 4 ADVANCED ENGINEERING MATERIALS 2002. 2001.5 Euro/kg AFS 15 Euro/kg  Fig.2.5 Euro/kg AFS 15 Euro/kg Norm costs/m 2 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Steel t=1. Figure 13 compares the material costs of the different materials (per square meter). Cost-specific bending stiffness. 14. For flat constructions. Normalized material costs (t = total thickness of the precursor material).2 mm Magnesium t=2.8 00 0 . 13.6 mm AFS t=2. Nevertheless. Bendingstiffniess [Nmm /kg Euro] 1 .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.