Metal foams are a new, as yet imperfectly characterized, class of materials with low densities and novel physical, mechanical, thermal, electrical and acoustic properties. They offer potential for lightweight structures, for energy absorption, and for thermal management; and some of them, at least, are cheap. The current understanding of their production, properties and uses in assembled in this Design Guide. The presentation is deliberately kept as simple as possible. Section 1.1 expands on the philosophy behind the Guide. Section 1.2 lists potential applications for metal foams. Section 1.3 gives a short bibliography of general information sources; further relevant literature is given in the last section of each chapter.

At this point in time most commercially available metal foams are based on aluminum or nickel. Methods exist for foaming magnesium, lead, zinc, copper, bronze, titanium, steel and even gold, available on custom order. Given the intensity of research and process development, it is anticipated that the range of available foams will expand quickly over the next five years.

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