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Super Strong Metal Foam Discovered 367

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the body-armor-in-a-can dept.
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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Super Strong Metal Foam Discovered

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  • How is it made? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by slashkitty (21637) on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:43PM (#30986544) Homepage
    No details on how they made it, or how feasible it will be to scale up.
  • Re:Uniform fab (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:52PM (#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.

  • Body Armor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SignalFreq (580297) on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:53PM (#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:Geroge Carlin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:03PM (#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:How is it made? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rhsanborn (773855) on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:10PM (#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].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:22PM (#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.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:22PM (#30987188) Journal

    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:Collision (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:39PM (#30987484)

    It sounds like they are saying that, due to the compression of the metal, only 5 mph of force of a vehicle moving 28 mph is transferred through the marterial (the rest being eaten by compressing the foam).

    Similar to a wooden bat and a foam bat. If moved at the same speed, the foam bat feels softer because it compresses and transfers less kinetic energy to the receiver.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rainmaestro (996549) on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:42PM (#30987534)

    Hmm, so everyone who lives north of Georgia and actually has to leave their basement is too stupid to live. Actually, I kinda like that *evil grin*

    But then, I live in Florida, where I run the risk of hydroplaning during an afternoon rainstorm 8 months out of the year. So maybe I'm too stupid to live for not being smart enough to call in sick 120 days a year because I might have to drive home in the rain =)

    Maybe we're all too stupid to live.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rainmaestro (996549) on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:47PM (#30987614)

    Riiiight. Because in the real world, there are only 5 other vehicles on the road at any time. Roads are way too congested to actually leave enough room to change lanes in a case like this.

    Nevermind the time requirement. Safely changing lanes safely in a short distance on sub-optimal road conditions requires a nontrivial amount of time. Which you may/may not have depending on when the vehicle behind you begins to skid.

    You can takes steps to *minimize* the risk, but some accidents simply cannot be avoided.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:49PM (#30987652) Homepage Journal

    Nice missing his point, dingbat. There would be no way of avoiding that situation, and an otherwise fender bender that would not cause injury would result in your death.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbezorg (1263978) on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:56PM (#30987756)

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

    Normally, I try to be constructive and polite but sometimes there is a need to make an exception.

    Don't you hate it when you post something really stupid on slashdot and you can't unpost it?

    Or are you aware of some precognitive ability that I am not?

    Something that would have told myself and a few others to pull to the side of the road rather than stop in the lane for heavy traffic on I95 to allow the driver that fell asleep to pass us by harmlessly? You know, rather than plow into the back of my truck, into another vehicle and finally into a third?

    They had to cut the roof off to get me out. So if you have figured out some magic way I could have avoided that I, and I'm sure a heck of a lot of other people, would really like to know.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Monday February 01, 2010 @05:57PM (#30987760) Homepage Journal

    The spike in the middle of the steering wheel thing is fucking retarded, because someone can come right into your lane or even hit you head-on while you're parked, and then you get stabbed for no fault of your own. Do yourself and the world a favor and stop repeating such a stupid meme, even in jest.

  • I agree with the earlier poster. A spike would make the road much safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle riders at the expense of drivers.

    let me just say that I am in favor of eliminating personal road vehicles in favor of working public transportation... but your comment just ain't so, because you can mow down pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle riders without hitting the steel spike. all it would result in is people buying more big vehicles that kill those classes of people without much more than a bumpy ride.

    Also, motorcycle riders can fuck off sideways; the average motorcycle has ten times the emissions per mile of the average car, and the average motorcycle actually gets about 40 mpg when driven normally, while you can get that kind of mileage driving a TDI Jetta which will carry four people and a bunch of cargo.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbezorg (1263978) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:37PM (#30989196)

    While precautions are necessary, you serve as proof against your own position when it is considered in it's entirety. For example, your precautions still failed you with regards to the drunk driver. Did you tell your employer or the police that arrived at the scene that you could have avoided the accident?

    I'll never know what happened in the side-swipe, but the road was narrow and winding, so there's mitigating circumstances.

    Where is that willingness to take responsibility? You focus on and downplay your own fault here and thus, by your own words "Some people, such as you, get focused on fault instead of responsibility. You are the type of person who deserves to get impaled."

    Your own experience is contradicting your stated position so I'll stick to my stated position. That is you managed to post something really stupid.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amRadioHed (463061) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:39PM (#30989218)

    1. Might work, might not. No guarantees.
    2. Might work, might not. It's a good suggestion but only works at intersections without sensors under the pavement. I've been at red lights that never go green until you pull up close enough to be detected.
    3 & 4. Might work, might not. Just because some times are more likely to have unsafe drivers on the road does not mean you are guaranteed to be safe from them at other times. Also, not driving is not a solution to safe driving. Well it is, but it's not always practical.

    Basically, the previous posters assertion that failure to avoid an accident is always your fault is absurd. You can be a safer driver, but no matter what you do driving will never be 100% safe.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cunk (643486) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:58PM (#30989444)

    That sounds more like a phobia than common sense precautions. Sure, some of the things you mention you do while driving are just good common sense but saying in on holidays or making sure you live near your job seem a little excessive. So if someone invites you to a New Years Eve party you actually say no because you're worried about getting in an accident? Sounds paranoid to me and your letting your desire for a perfect driving record interfere with your social life.

    Not that I wish any harm on you but wouldn't it be ironic if a drunk driver crashed into your living room on New Years Eve while you were home alone watching the ball drop?

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Monday February 01, 2010 @09:03PM (#30990122) Journal
    That's probably because they couldn't find a "-1, Unrealistic" mod. I get your point about defensive driving, but the plain truth is that a) taking measures for minimizing risk are not always practical, and b) accidents can occur no matter what, since you can never eliminate risk, only reduce it and try to minimize its impact. My wife and I have each separately been in serious accidents which could not realistically be avoided.
  • by autophile (640621) on Monday February 01, 2010 @09:19PM (#30990250)

    OTOH, landing in a bed of inelastic potato chips wouldn't be particularly painful (though it would be itchy).

    As well as delicious.

  • Re:Geroge Carlin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:06AM (#30993572)

    Whilst I'm not saying it's your fault still, it's good practice to assume that people wont stop at stop signs even though they should.

    In the UK we have lots of roundabouts, and I mean lots. The amount of people who incorrectly indicate on roundabouts is phenomenal. It's not always easy to tell if someone is exiting the roundabout or not, it should be easy to tell- they should just indicate and go off, but often they don't, sometimes they indicate to go off and then don't even. The point is, when pulling out onto a roundabout you can't rely on what they should do, you have to base your decision on their speed, the cars angle and so forth.

    The same goes for stop signs, traffic lights and so on, if someone's approaching a stop sign fast enough that they don't appear as if they are going to stop then you have to prepare for that. Driving in the UK is a nightmare nowadays and our driving tests reflect this sort of thing, you shouldn't have to look left when turning right at traffic lights when your light is green, but you do because you must make sure no one is running the light.

    So whilst you may not be at fault for an accident, it is still possible to avoid a lot of them. There are always circumstances where you cannot avoid them certainly- where you simply don't have enough visibility to see that someone is going so fast they aren't going to stop when they should for example. As such again, I'm not saying you could have helped it- perhaps this was your circumstance, there just wasn't the visibility to see her coming. What I'm saying is that even your scenario of someone running a stop sign in many cases could often still be avoided.

    Avoiding accidents isn't just about who was technically at fault at the end of the day, and whilst the parent appears to take things a little too much to the paranoid and the extreme (i.e. not driving at all on certain days of the year) I think there is a little truth in what he says at least, in that some accidents can be avoided, even when you weren't the one at fault in said accident.

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