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Composite Metal Foam Outperforms Aluminum for Aircraft Wings

The leading edges of aircraft wings have to meet a very demanding set of characteristics. New research shows that a combination of steel composite metal foam (CMF) and epoxy resin has more desirable characteristics for use as a leading-edge material than the aluminum currently in widespread use.

"We call our hybrid material 'infused CMF,'" says Afsaneh Rabiei, corresponding author of a paper on the work and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State. "And while infused CMF is about the same weight as aluminum, it is tougher and has other characteristics that make it more appealing from a flight performance, safety and fuel efficiency standpoint."

CMF is a foam that consists of hollow, metallic spheres -- made of materials such as stainless steel or titanium -- embedded in a metallic matrix made of steel, aluminum or metallic alloys. For this study, the researchers used steel-steel CMF, meaning that both the spheres and the matrix were made of steel. Previous work has found the metal foam is remarkably tough: it can withstand .50 caliber rounds, resist high temperatures, and block blast pressure from high explosive incendiary rounds.READ MORE (Science Daily)