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Super Strong Metal Foam Discovered

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the body-armor-in-a-can dept.

Science 367

MikeChino writes to tell us that a North Carolina State University researcher has discovered what appears to be the strongest metal foam yet, capable of compressing up to 80% of its original size under load and still retain the original shape. The hope is that this amazing material could be used in cars, body armor, or even buildings to absorb the shock from earthquakes. "Metal foam is exactly what you might think – a cellular structure made from metal with tiny pockets of space inside. What makes Rabiei’s metal foam better than others is that she’s been able to make the tiny pockets of space more uniform. And that apparently is what gives it the strength as well as elasticity it needs in order to compress as much as it does without deformation. Many tests are being performed in the laboratory to determine its strength, but so far Rabiei says that the spongy material has 'a much higher strength-to-density ratio than any metal foam that has ever been reported.' Calculations also predict that in car accidents, when two pieces of her composite metal foam are inserted 'behind the bumper of a car traveling at 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as an impact traveling at only 5 mph.'"

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367 comments

Bumper Cars! (1)

G2GAlone (1600001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986498)

Soon the roads will be bumper car mania.

Geroge Carlin (5, Funny)

mollog (841386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986604)

"...behind the bumper of a car traveling at 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as an impact traveling at only 5 mph,,,"

George Carlin used to point out that if you put a large spike on the steering wheel so that the driver would suffer badly in a collision, the numbers of collisions would drop dramatically.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986656)

Or course, this would be because no one would get in a car anymore. When half the accidents will be through no fault of your own, why would you risk impaling yourself?

Re:Geroge Carlin (0, Troll)

mollog (841386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987058)

"When half the accidents will be through no fault of your own..."

This is exactly George's point. Some people, such as you, get focused on fault instead of responsibility. You are the type of person who deserves to get impaled.

Accidents, including accidents that are not your fault, can be avoided. If you failed to avoid an accident, including the ones the ones that are not your fault, you get weeded from the gene pool.

Re:Geroge Carlin (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987188)

Accidents, including accidents that are not your fault, can be avoided.

Using a primary plus two secondary means of birth control can help (condom + pill + rhythm method)

Seriously, though... some accidents simply cannot be avoided. Sometimes a driver is faced with a choice of accidents... get sideswiped by a moron or run off the road. Sure, there are things you can do to minimize accidents (like don't drive in someone else's blind spot), but the only way to assure yourself that you will never get in an auto accident, no matter how careful you are, is to not ever get into an auto.

That said -- I've been in two accidents in my life (both when I was 17 with less than a year's driving experience), and I could have avoided both if I was as experienced as now, by not putting myself in a situation with no escape. And if I'd been weeded out of the gene pool at age 17, then humanity would have suffered a great loss*.

*YMMV. Some may say that humanity would have escaped great suffering. It depends on how my plans for world dominat^H^H^H^H^H^H^H leadership progress.

Re:Geroge Carlin (3, Funny)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987318)

but the only way to assure yourself that you will never get in an auto accident, no matter how careful you are, is to not ever get into an auto.

That's not true. You can still get hit by a car while riding your bicycle or walking on the sidewalk. Not getting into a car doesn't keep you safe from cars.

The best way I can think of to assure yourself you will never get into a car accident is to shoot yourself in the head.

Or jump off a bridge or a cliff so they don't find your body and get into a car accident on the way to the morgue.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987368)

That's not true. You can still get hit by a car while riding your bicycle or walking on the sidewalk. Not getting into a car doesn't keep you safe from cars.

Aww, you got me there. How about if you never leave your mom's basement, and you arrange your furniture on the side of the basement away from the street? Would that work?

The best way I can think of to assure yourself you will never get into a car accident is to shoot yourself in the head.

Or perhaps drive a six-inch spike through your head?

That is no good. It leaves right back where we started.

Re:Geroge Carlin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30987202)

So somehow I was supposed to avoid the four (yes, four different cars, four different times) accidents I had where I was rear ended at a stop light, while the light was red?

Re:Geroge Carlin (2, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987308)

So somehow I was supposed to avoid the four (yes, four different cars, four different times) accidents I had where I was rear ended at a stop light, while the light was red?

Yes. There are ways to minimize the chance of getting rear-ended at a red light.

1. Pump your brakes when a car comes into view in your rear-view mirror. Your flashing brake lights increase the chance the other driver will recognize the situation and stop in time.
2. Stop at least a car length before the white line at a stop light. If a car looks like it is going to rear end you, you have at least one (if not two) car length space to move forward and to the side to avoid a collision.
3. Avoid driving at times when it is likely other drivers are not alert (late at night, and the post-dinner tipsy driver time).
4. Avoid driving when visibility is poor.

It boils down to: not putting yourself in bad situations; making sure you are alert and focused on sources of risk; doing your best to make sure other drivers are aware of your position, speed, and intentions; and having an escape plan if something bad happens.

Re:Geroge Carlin (2, Informative)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987254)

Okay, let's play out a scenario here.

You are at a stop light in the middle lane, with a vehicle in front of you and vehicles on both sides of you. It is winter time, and the roads are slick. A vehicle coming up behind you skids on the ice and cannot stop in time. You are boxed in by all the other cars on the road and cannot go anywhere.

Kindly explain how you are going to "avoid" this collision.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30987362)

Kindly explain how you are going to "avoid" this collision.

Simple - In the George Carlin system, if you're smart you don't drive when there is a chance of ice on the road during the day.

Re:Geroge Carlin (2, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986690)

1960s and 1970s cars prove him wrong. Those vehicles had a high rate of impaling the driver on the steering column in a crash of high enough speed and the accident rates were no better.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986836)

It's not the mortality rate that would cause safer driving. It's the threat of the mortality rate.

It's much harder to ignore the threat of a large spike than of the steering column.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987340)

His being a comedian proved him wrong. Fractured logic == funny.

(Note to everybody about to hit 'reply': Yes, the 'irony' of my post was intentional.)

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986712)

I'm pretty sure the medical expenses associated with car accidents would drop as they'd all be dead, but most people don't drive around assuming an impact that would otherwise cause their face to impact the steering wheel is all fine and dandy because they have an airbag so they might as well plow into that bridge abutment anyways.

Re:Geroge Carlin (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986874)

I've heard it told that George Carlin was a comedian.

Maybe Geroge Carlin was a different guy that was a car designer, but I don't thing so, I think it was a typo.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986904)

But if everyone found out that they will die if they crash, they would take less risks.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30987178)

Actually, they would take fewer risks.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986926)

True, because the population would drop dramatically as well.

Re:Geroge Carlin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30986930)

If we killed all the unemployed people we'd have record unemployment!
And in both cases, you miss the point entirely.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

BenBoy (615230) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986990)

"...behind the bumper of a car traveling at 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as an impact traveling at only 5 mph,,,"

George Carlin used to point out that if you put a large spike on the steering wheel so that the driver would suffer badly in a collision, the numbers of collisions would drop dramatically.

With a properly placed explosive charge behind the bumper of a car traveling at 5 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as an impact traveling at up to 28 mph ..."

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987050)

My response to that would be a liberal application of a hacksaw.

Re:Geroge Carlin (1)

jackherer (82221) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987314)

"George Carlin used to point out that if you put a large spike on the steering wheel so that the driver would suffer badly in a collision, the numbers of collisions would drop dramatically."

He got the idea from TE Lawrence.

Party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30986526)

That would make an interesting foam party...

Uniform fab (2)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986534)

Is it simply the uniformity in the cellular structure? What is the difficulty/breakthrough in achieving higher uniformity?

Re:Uniform fab (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30986664)

Uniformity is one of the hardest things to accomplish when manufacturing anything. If it were easy, then first pass yield would be 100% every time. In reality, you are lucky if FPY reaches 95%, and if you've ever been in quality control, you know that 95% FPY is shit depending on the industry. If you aren't above 99% your nothing.

This is especially important and difficult in metallurgy. This is why there are highly trained material scientists and metallurgists working in the Aerospace industries. A well designed part is worthless if the heat from the tools changes the metal properties at the joints.

To go back to TFA, how would you suppose you form a foam out of metal? Now how you you ensure consistency?

I don't know, and neither do you. That's why it's a breakthrough.

Re:Uniform fab (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986822)

I'm assuming there are two related metrics (at least): the tolerance and the yield.

I'm wondering what the breakthrough here is to increase that.

Re:Uniform fab (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987082)

It's actually quite simple: if nobody could do it before you, it's a breakthrough.

Re:Uniform fab (3, Funny)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987336)

He's asking "what is the breakthrough," not "what is a breakthrough," which is a small difference, but crucial. What changed about the process, or in the concept behind the process that allowed the breakthrough to happen. That's the question posed.

I suppose with your smartass answer, you're used to being able to coast through limited reading comprehension through application of "humour."

Re:Uniform fab (0)

zerosomething (1353609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987208)

And if you watch the video you will see this is very easy to do. Well kind of. It's just hollow metal spheres cast in Aluminum. There may be some other little secrets to the composition of the spheres but it should be easy to manufacture. I could probably do it in my basement. Now just add memory metal to the system and you got new kids of springs.

Re:Uniform fab (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987358)

A well designed part is worthless if the heat from the tools changes the metal properties at the joints.

Annealing and heat treating?

I don't know, and neither do you. That's why it's a breakthrough.

No, that's why neither you, I, nor oldhack are metallurgists. "I don't know and neither do you" is like two chemists agreeing that a bubble sort is a breakthrough because neither one of them know how to write computer code. Yes, it's a breakthrough because they found a way to do it better, with a corresponding improvement in the properties of the final product. However, I took oldhack's post to mean, "what was the breakthrough that allowed them to achieve greater uniformity?", not "what's so groundbreaking about better uniformity?"

How is it made? (1, Insightful)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986544)

No details on how they made it, or how feasible it will be to scale up.

Re:How is it made? (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986598)

Some hot metal, a tiny straw, and a guy who's really good at measuring his breaths.

Needless to say, scaling is a problem.

Re:How is it made? (2, Funny)

goffster (1104287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987048)

Think China, lots of guys, lots of straws.

Re:How is it made? (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987214)

Damn, and we already shipped all of our tiny straw manufacturing over to China!

Re:How is it made? (4, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986720)

The foam is made by filling a mold with hollow steel spheres and then filling the gaps with molten aluminum. VERY scalable.

I wonder how it would fair if, instead of using molten aluminum to fill the gaps, you coated the steel spheres with aluminum (or other binder that melts at a temp lower than the spheres would start to collapse at) and sintering it into a solid block. More air gaps means it's lighter, but still very uniform.
=Smidge=

Re:How is it made? (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987046)

The foam is made by filling a mold with hollow steel spheres and then filling the gaps with molten aluminum. VERY scalable.

Well, yeah, if you assume hollow steel spheres are "off the shelf". Kind of like saying starships are very scalable, you just make them with warp drives, problem solved.

I have cast aluminum and have had porosity problems. Basically some gasses dissolve better in hot aluminum and bubble out as it cools. Preventing porosity in castings is very old technology. I always assumed metal foams did the opposite of preventing porosity, and tried to supersaturate molten metal with hydrogen or argon or something under pressure and then froze it at a rate that grew the bubbles to just the right size. Metallurgists have no problem doing all kinds of complicated heat treatments and all kinds of weird alloys, so I figured the limitation was dissolving enough "whatever" in the metal to make it work.

Re:How is it made? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30987074)

Can't RTFA because it /.'d

Wouldn't that create an aluminum sponge?

Re:How is it made? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987098)

When you say small metal spheres, it makes me think of stealth technology. If I remember right, the "radar absorbing coating" contains small metalic spheres that cause the radar signal to be diminished as it is dispersed into the medium and begins bouncing off the spheres.

So, I have to wonder, if a layer of this material would have a similar effect for reducing your radar signature. If so, that plus a laser jammer (legal in most states for non-commercial vehicles) would make for a pretty sweet rig.

-Steve

Re:How is it made? (1)

mindcorrosive (1524455) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986796)

TFA doesn't even mention the what the base metal is (I'd guess aluminium -- most foams I've seen are Al-based). I'm not too impressed by this, as no details on either the method or the composition are mentioned - sounds like slashvertisment to me.
A common method to produce Al foams is similar to the way bread is made - add some "soda" to the base alloy, invoke a chemical reaction that releases a gas (CO2 or similar), then quickly cast and solidify. You get mostly spherical voids, which have relatively low influence as a stress concentrator. That being said, it's rather complicated to get uniform void distribution along the volume, especially avoiding large gas entrapments in critical places that can weaken significantly the material.

Re:How is it made? (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986800)

"It's the bubbles of nothing that make it really something".

Re:How is it made? (5, Informative)

da5id (91814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986802)

TFA is a poor re-blog of the original article here [livescience.com] , which has this video [livescience.com] , where you actually hear how it is made: Hollow steel balls are pored into a from, (and presumably agitated to settle them in a uniform matrix), then aluminum is pored over them to fix them there. So yes, should scale up well.

Re:How is it made? (5, Insightful)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986984)

I hate seeing this comment on every science article mentioned. It reflects a common attitude among people and corporations, and it is, in many ways, the wrong attitude. Yes, many ideas aren't scalable. But there is, and needs to be a lag time between discovering something and then figuring out how to manufacture and apply it. If we only concern ourselves with something we can bring to market tomorrow then a lot of items will never see the light of day. Some science needs time to develop, and it isn't any less impressive if they haven't already started building the factories to put these in [insert application here].

will be nice to see... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986566)

It would be nice to see how this could be introduced inside the lining of a car to help the impact at a high speed collision.
Such as on a highway where many people die yearly, maybe it might give a bit more possibility to avoid also havign pieces fly off, as they would stay all together with this foam lining/mesh...no messy bumpers split into a million pieces..making clean up quicker and more efficient as well.

This solves my anti-alien transmissions helmet (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30986572)

and underwear design problems! If we can just get some aluminum oxide mixed into the alloy...I'll be free, free at last!

Replacement for air bags? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986580)

I think I'd rather have some of this between me and a potential impact than a classic airbag, if it came to the crunch. What do they use for an inflation gas generator - sodium azide is it? Nasty stuff. Like driving around with a firecracker held in front of your face.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986642)

Have you ever seen someone inflate regular foam? I'm pretty sure it comes full size when it's made and then you can compress it, but it doesn't inflate up like an airbag.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986702)

Um...
Whoosh? ::facepalm::

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986922)

Really? what am I missing here, he seems to genuinely believe this foam could replace airbags which leads me to believe he thinks it can be inflated on the fly rather then being a solid chunk of metal that deforms. I realize that is so insane that I wish it was a joke, but if it was it wasn't made very apparent.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987220)

Or he thinks it can be used in the crumple zones and remove the need for an airbag. I mean, did you even bother reading the article summary? Whoosh, indeed.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (5, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987280)

I read it as his desire to use this foam as a replacement for the bumper and crumple zones. It would turn the existing crumple zones into something in the car's frame and bumper system that would absorb a great deal more of the impact and, therefore, largely eliminate the need for airbags.

I'm not sure I'm buying it, though. Airbags are an "also need" feature, and cannot be replaced wholly by a better crumple zone.

The problem lies in the elasticity and the distance. If you hit a brick wall doing 65MPH and your crumple zone is too squishy, it will continue crumpling up until you are included in the crumple zone. In other words, you're dead.

Make it too hard, and the car will stop more quickly than your flesh can handle. The airbag is a crude but effective way of allowing a relatively stiff crumple zone that can manage to keep your passenger cabin intact during a VERY major impact, and still accommodate your body's need to decelerate as gradually as possible. If you hit a brick wall doing 65MPH, the crumple zone decelerates the car from 65MPH - 0MPH in the distance represented by the zone (usually a few feet at best), and materials aren't going to improve on that a whole hell of a lot. You are still going from 65MPH-0MPH in just a few feet. That's a SERIOUS amount of deceleration.

The airbag is what takes your head and torso and slows them down as gently and slowly as possible, leveraging the deceleration already provided by the crumple zone and making the best use of it to keep your brains from splashing around in your noggin, and/or snapping your neck. Which is not to say the airbag is gentle or slow at all, far from it, just more gentle and slower than making your dainty neck bones absorb all of the force as your torso is stopped by the seatbelt and your several pounds of head really wants to keep going to make Newton happy.

Could be worse, though. You could be wearing no seatbelt at all and expect your chest and head to absorb all of the speed when they impact the steering wheel and windshield respectively. That always ends colorfully, particularly in shades of red and grey.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (5, Interesting)

Primitive Pete (1703346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986698)

Maybe, maybe not. Elasticity is not the same thing as softness... steel is pretty elastic, but you don't necessarily want a face full of it in a car wreck. OTOH, landing in a bed of inelastic potato chips wouldn't be particularly painful (though it would be itchy).

Re:Replacement for air bags? (2, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986900)

Well, and elastic just describes it's tendency to return to it's original shape, it says nothing about how much energy it's going to take to make it change shape in the first place...We're talking about a block of aluminum filled with hollow steel balls here. Anything short of a sledgehammer isn't going to change it in the least.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (5, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986740)

You'd rather have a big hunk of metal than an airbag? Don't let the "foam" fool you: slamming your face into a block of it at 35mph would only be a little better than running face first into a brick wall at the same speed.

It's squishy and springy...for metal. But it's not what you'd call soft.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986974)

I think the person meant that they would rather have a traditional seatbelt and a front end crumple zone made of this metal foam versus a seatbelt, a regular crumple zone, and an airbag.

I'm not sure I agree. I've been in collisions where the vehicles involved were moving at about 20 or 25 mph, and the speed was too low for airbags to deploy. In both cases the vehicles involved were nearly destroyed and none of the occupants were hurt. If you're moving fast enough in a collision that an airbag deploys, you probably want the protection it offers.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

wwfarch (1451799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987304)

I agree with this sentiment. I was in an accident and totaled my car a few weeks ago. I hit some black ice on the expressway going about 65 miles per hour (had no traction issues up to this point). Went off the road and hit a large concrete block. I'm not sure that the airbag saved my life but it definitely helped me avoid some injury.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987144)

Airbags would be bad, but Steering columns might be a better application for this.. perhaps.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (2, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987462)

This stuff is nice, but it's a mistake to look at it as a drastic improvement in terms of safety.

The benefit of this is the reduction in weight without loss of strength.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (4, Interesting)

dintlu (1171159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986768)

Airbags and bumpers serve two entirely different purposes.

If this material lives up to the hype (unlikely), your next car will feature both items.

I'm curious to know more about the 28mph -> 5mph assertion. That stat was given to the media because it sounds impressive (grant guff), but how does it compare to the deceleration of a traditional auto bumper.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986976)

I'm curious to know more about the 28mph -> 5mph assertion

I flat out disbelieve it. Extreme claims need extreme proofs.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987432)

The national standard is for a wimpy 50% reduction (5mph->2.5mph); this isn't the maximum by any stretch, since obviously you can put enough crap on the front to reduce the impact by 99% if you want to. So it's hardly an extreme claim.

The origin of the 28->5 number should be obvious. The material can compress to 80% of it's original size under load.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987312)

Perhaps she wasn't comparing the 28mph to a 5pmh with current bumpers, but a 5mph perfectly inelastic collision? Can't tell for sure.

Re:Replacement for air bags? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30987186)

I think I'd rather have some of this between me and a potential impact than a classic airbag, if it came to the crunch. What do they use for an inflation gas generator - sodium azide is it? Nasty stuff. Like driving around with a firecracker held in front of your face.

I'm thinking if your face is traveling at 80+ kph into metal foam there is a going to be a lot of crunch going around. Airbags made of cloth and gas which deflate when you hit them do enough damage. I'd be more concerned with inhaling the fragments of my teeth and skull that resulted from my face colliding with a metal "pillow" than about inhaling the byproducts of the airbag detonation.

Reinforced... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986620)

...for the downstairs neighbor's protection.

Now we just need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30986680)

transparent aluminum windshields.

Impact at 5 mph (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986684)

Calculations also predict that in car accidents, when two pieces of her composite metal foam are inserted "behind the bumper of a car traveling at 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as an impact traveling at only 5 mph."

In other words, calling insurance companies, calling the police to file a traffic report, possible layer involvement?

Re:Impact at 5 mph (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986742)

In other words, calling insurance companies,

Yes

calling the police to file a traffic report,

Not usually

possible layer involvement?

Anything is possible. Though I'm not sure why a layer would care (unless I hit his brick truck).

Body Armor (4, Insightful)

SignalFreq (580297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986692)

Place this behind an existing body armor compound (one that stops the bullet) and use the foam to absorb the remaining shock. Then you could survive being shot and also continue to return fire without being thrown back or suffering bad bruising.

Re:Body Armor (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986752)

Unless the guy firing it gets knocked on his ass your own shock will be the only thing knocking you on yours...

Re:Body Armor (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987014)

People don't generally lean into a bullet, but they do take a proper firing stance, so that's not completely true.

Re:Body Armor (1)

SignalFreq (580297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987174)

Maybe if you are wearing full Level IV body armor. Most of the lighter stuff traditionally worn by law enforcement still imparts a great deal of impact to the body, especially with higher mass or higher velocity rounds.

Re:Body Armor (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986866)

Place this behind an existing body armor compound (one that stops the bullet) and use the foam to absorb the remaining shock.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spalling [wikipedia.org]

Probably would make a nice spall liner for tanks.

Re:Body Armor (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986966)

Place this behind an existing body armor compound (one that stops the bullet) and use the foam to absorb the remaining shock. Then you could survive being shot and also continue to return fire without being thrown back or suffering bad bruising.

FWIW, I think we're a long way away from metal foams being used as personal body armor. Yes, they'll absorb some of the energy, but they'd still be bulky and heavy.

Vehicular armor is a much more likely use with the foams we have today.

Re:Body Armor (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987086)

Actually, they use steel and ceramic plates behind the kevlar even now, so you could switch out those and maybe see an improvement in protection to weight.

NO NO NO NO NO (0, Redundant)

Mordac the Preventer (36096) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986766)

This is stupid.

It sounds like a cool material, but the last thing we need is for something to make the idiot behind the wheel feel SAFER. A piece of spongy metal will not protect the pedestrian, cyclist or child when 2 tons of monster truck plow into it.

The best thing we could do for road safety is to put a six inch spike onto every steering wheel - you'd drive a helluva lot more carefully if you had that pressed into your chest as you hurtle down the freeway (BTW that's Max's idea, not mine).

Yes yes yes (1)

Primitive Pete (1703346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986880)

Scaring the drivers is not a better idea than making cars safe enough to tolerate drivers' faults. It's just not.
Machines have to be usable.

Re:NO NO NO NO NO (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986884)

It's funny how out-of-shape nerds that OD on Dr. Pepper and Cheetos and avoid outdoor activities often support survival of the fittest.

Re:NO NO NO NO NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30986948)

A piece of spongy metal will not protect the pedestrian, cyclist or child when 2 tons of monster truck plow into it.

But still, that would not help the pedestrian, nor affect the driver when driving through a pedestrian.

Re:NO NO NO NO NO (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987094)

A piece of spongy metal will not protect the pedestrian, cyclist or child when 2 tons of monster truck plow into it.

Au contraire! Some of the impact force will compress the foam, instead of compressing the child's head.

My testing has conclusive shown that a child's head, impacted at 25 mph by a block of this foam, will compress only 3 inches, compared to 5 inches when hit by a piece of solid aluminum.

Clearly this means that children will be 40% less dead when hit by a Canyonero driven by a soccer mom texting her neighbor's landscaper about getting her garden tilled*, provided that the Canyonero is equipped with this foam.

*And by getting her garden tilled, I mean having her bushes trimmed**

**And by having her bushes trimmed, I mean having bulbs planted***

****And by having bulbs planted, I mean having roots... oh screw it. I mean having a tryst.

Re:NO NO NO NO NO (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987300)

Clearly this means that children will be 40% less dead when hit by a Canyonero

That might be enough for Miracle Max to work with!

****And by having bulbs planted, I mean having roots... oh screw it. I mean having a tryst.

I'm still confused... What's a tryst? Are they perennials? What's this landscaper's number, I think I could use a tryst or two.

Re:NO NO NO NO NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30987422)

Re:NO NO NO NO NO (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987430)

I'm still confused... What's a tryst? Are they perennials? What's this landscaper's number, I think I could use a tryst or two.

I think it's like a cyst, only three times as much.

I got this from etymonline.com:

late 14c., from O.Fr. tristre "appointed station in hunting," possibly from a Scand. source (cf. O.N. treysta "to trust;" see trust).

So I think maybe she has a furry rodent (perhaps a muskrat or beaver) she needs the gardener to take care of with his big gun.

Re:NO NO NO NO NO (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987218)

It sounds like a cool material, but the last thing we need is for something to make the idiot behind the wheel feel SAFER.

Oddly, the vehicles that make you FEEL safest are the most dangerous on the road -- SUVs. More people die in SUVs per passenger mile than any other kind of vehicle, and the reasons are simple. Their weight makes braking and handling problematic, their height makes handling problematic and rollovers easier, and they have no crumple zones. This stuff wouldn't make you feel safer, but it would make you BE safer.

George Carlin first talked about the metal spike, but he was joking. You're not supposed to take a comedian seriously, you know.

If I have a choice between hitting a pedestrian or a utility pole, I'll hit the pole. With the spike, one might not make that choice. You have to be crazy to think dangerous cars are safer; cars used to be a lot less safe then they are now; metal dashes, no ABS, no airbags. And then as now it was said "the most dangerous part of the car is the nut behind the wheel", and the people who said that were the ones who were against seat belts. With today's safer cars the death rate per passenger mile has plummeted.

YouTube videos (5, Informative)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986778)

Two youtube videos about the material:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI5ZzfOlbKA [youtube.com] - earlier video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfFcs25KmMc [youtube.com] - one week old video

Shows among other things compression tests of the material.

Dr. Rabiei (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30987052)

What a cutie! Or is it Dr. Cutie?

Rabiei what kind of name is that Persian, Israeli, ...

Bullshit (0, Flamebait)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#30986788)

"behind the bumper of a car traveling at 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as an impact traveling at only 5 mph."
That is complete bullshit. Metal Foam might have some cool properties but it isn't fucking magic. It's not possible for it to reduce the impact that much - the bumper just isn't big enough.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987310)

When you say "fucking magic" you mean elixirs of love and the like ?

Re:Bullshit (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987390)

It might be flame-ish, but some things don't add up. The force during impact is proportional to the acceleration from impact speed to zero. For a perfectly designed bumper, the acceleration (change in speed) will be linear from initiation of impact to zero speed.

Here's the rub - most impact at 28mph is likely going to be absorbed by the crumple zones in the fenders, not the bumper. The bumper is already going to compress at least 25-50% at impact and this is going to increase that to maybe 90% (I'm assuming at 28mph it will go partially plastic). So out of the 8-12" of compression, we're getting an extra 2"-3" from the bumper. The numbers don't quite add up.

The link does not work. (1)

methamorph (950510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987008)

Error establishing a database connection... Is there any other link to the article?

Grammar? Writing? Editors? (1, Informative)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987016)

We just griped about that.

>capable of compressing up to 80% of it's original size

"It's" == "It is." No exceptions.
The genitive of "it" it "its."

Sincerely,
Grammar Police greetings from somebody for whom English is the 3rd language.

Re:Grammar? Writing? Editors? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987374)

The reason people do this is because they remember the rule that possessives use apostrophes, but forget that some possessives don't.

He's, she's, it's (contraction)
His, hers, its (possessive)

Collision (1)

TexVex (669445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987104)

when two pieces of her composite metal foam are inserted "behind the bumper of a car traveling at 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as an impact traveling at only 5 mph."

Yeah, try that without a seatbelt or airbag then. You'd still be crushing your chest into your steering wheel at 28 MPH, unless this stuff also generates a star trek inertial dampening field.

Scaling collisions... (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987140)

As a rough approximation, would the decreased shock from collision drop quadratically as opposed to linearly? Someone feeling the shock of a 80mph crash as opposed to 100mph will still likely get hosed off the road at the end of the day.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe (0, Troll)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987230)

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe [theoatmeal.com] Dear poster, Have at it. Thanks, -The Grammar Cops

Still in theaters now ... (1)

nickheart (557603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987242)

I just saw a really interesting documentary on this over the weekend. They called it Unobtainium, but I'm pretty sure that's just marketing speak. Turns out there's a bunch of it just ready to be harvested about 6 light-years away, but there's a catch ...

(plus) 0ne Informative) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30987250)

Tops responsibility the bottoms butt Survive at all ONE OR THE OTHER c0nfirmed that *BSD Arrogance was irrecoverable

What about the kid on the bicycle? (0, Offtopic)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987372)

So the stupid driver who was texting on their mobile phone or eating a burger is fine, great. What about the ten year old old they've just thumped into with their SUV? Does it help them at all?

Hopefully a foam bumper will help minimise the damage to the kid who has just been torn off their bike by a stupid auto driver, though my suspicion is that the laws of physics will say getting hit by a ton of metal moving at 28mph is still going to damage somebody really badly. I'd be interested to hear about the benefits the foam offers to people being hit by the car, as well as the person inside and already wearing a seat belt, with crumple zones and air bags.

Agreed with the other post which includes the quote about spikes in the middle of steering wheels being more likely to encourage careful driving than technological improvements which mean you can be a total idiot and smash into anyone or anything and walk away, because you're all right Jack and you don't care who you hit.

Damn science and cute researchers! (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987404)

http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Metal-Foam-2.jpg

I hate those pictures where you have to try to find the foam.

Next Scientist to go missing? (1)

sadegs (1583563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30987414)

Don't count on this going very far.. Iran will take her back to use the metal for some nuclear reactor.. then she'll go missing... [story to cont..] (from the video) "Feerst of all, this aloomeenum has ten percent denseeeety of the origeeenal alooomeenum" (in her bad persian accent)
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