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Syntactic foam, shown by scanning electron microscopy, consisting of glass microspheres within a matrix of epoxy resin.

Syntactic foams are composite materials synthesized by filling a metal, polymer or ceramic matrix with hollow particles called microballoons[1]. The presence of hollow particles results in lower density, higher strength, a lower coefficient of thermal expansion, and, in some cases, radar or sonar transparency.

Tailorability is one of the biggest advantages of these materials. The matrix material can be selected from almost any metal, polymer or ceramic. A wide variety of microballoons are available, including cenospheres, glass microspheres, and carbon and polymer microballoons. The most widely used and studied foams are glass microballoon-epoxy, glass microballoon-aluminium and cenosphere-aluminium.

The compressive properties of syntactic foams primarily depend on the properties of microballoons, whereas the tensile properties depend on the matrix material that holds the microballoons together. There are two main ways of adjusting the properties of these materials. The first method is to change the volume fraction of microballoon in the syntactic foam structure. The second method is to use microballoons of different wall thickness. In general, the compressive strength of the material is proportional to its density.

These materials were developed in early 1960s as buoyancy aid materials for marine applications[2]; the other characteristics led these materials to aerospace and ground transportation vehicle applications[3]. Current applications for syntactic foam include buoyancy modules for marine riser tensioners, boat hulls, deep-sea exploration,autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), parts of helicopters and airplanes, and sporting goods such as soccer balls[4].

Other application include;

  • Deep sea bouyancy foams
  • Thermoforming plug assist
  • Radar Transparent Materials
  • Acoustically attenuating materials
  • Blast mitigating materials

See also

References

  1. ^ "What is Syntactic Foam?". Cornerstone Research Group. http://www.crgrp.net/syntactics.shtml. Retrieved 2009-08-07.  
  2. ^ Kudo, Kimiaki (January 2008). "Overseas Trends in the Development of Human Occupied Deep Submersibles and a Proposal for Japan’s Way to Take" (PDF). Science and Technology Trends Quarterly Review 26: 104–123. http://www.nistep.go.jp/achiev/ftx/eng/stfc/stt026e/qr26pdf/STTqr2607.pdf. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
  3. ^ Karst, G. (2002). "Novel Processing of High-Performance Structural Syntactic Foams". Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering. http://www.sampe.org/store/paper.aspx?pid=943. Retrieved 2009-08-07.  
  4. ^ Thim, Johann (3 February 2005). "Performing Plastics - How plastics set out to conquer the world of sports". European Chemical Industry Council. http://www.cefic.be/templates/shwNewsFull.asp?NSID=543&HID=2&P=7. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
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