Gallery: NEW MATERIAL: Alusion Aluminum Foam

 

Scott Bennett from housefish.com writes:

I’ve had a sample of this stuff sitting around on my desk for a few years now, just waiting for the chance to use it. That chance still hasn’t come for me, but maybe you can think of something. Alusion is the trade name for Cymat’s “stabilized aluminum foam” product. The best way to describe it is as a sort of aluminum sponge. Using a patented process, the manufacturers take a molten aluminum metal matrix composite (made from recycled aluminum) and aerate it, then cool it to preserve the bubbly cellular structure. Being mostly air, the finished product weighs almost nothing. It looks like metallic volcanic rock.

Alusion is available in 4′ x 8′ sheets either 1/2″ or 1″ thick, with two different cell sizes. The raw product straight off the line has a thin aluminum skin on the faces, but it’s also available with the skin removed from one or both sides to give an open cell or translucent effect. Cymat also offers the option of encasing the whole thing in clear resin.

The best part — it’s made from post-industrial aluminum and is fully recyclable (except for the resin-encased version).

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14 Comments

  1. yozo March 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    how do I get hold of a sample of this?? i am in the uk and I am trying to create an archive for my BA interior design course.
    Can you help :)

  2. Jeff January 6, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    You guys all seem to know your stuff but personally, i think that stuff would look awesome as a lamp cover/shade.

    Yeh it would conduct heat but with the energy saving bulbs, surely that cant be a probem?

  3. Craig Yancey December 27, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Inner armor for cars, planes, space stations? Think “Urban assault vehicle” from Stripes.

    Use solar furnace to produce aluminum from rocks on moon, then use this material as outer walls of structure, covered inside with kevlar/mylar, outside with regolith (moon dirt). Beats hauling heavy metals to space. Anything that cuts down on NASA’s fuel consumption helps Earth’s environment.

  4. Scott Bennett February 5, 2006 at 3:17 am

    Soil leaching shouldn’t really be a problem- aluminum oxide is non-permeable to air, so aluminum doesn’t decay through oxidation the way steel does. It gets thin film of oxidation, then the process stops because the air (oxygen really) can’t get down to the rest of the metal. Anodizing is really just a way of depositing an even layer of aluminum oxide on the surface in a controlled fashion. I don’t know of any reason you couldn’t anodize this stuff and add a color. In fact, I seem to recall seeing a purple sample somewhere.

    The idea of using it as a heatsink is intriguing, although I wonder if the cells are open enough for that to work well.

  5. Ben January 31, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    Can this be anodized? If this is being used externally (i.e. not a shock absorber or something that’s hidden inside a panel), the oxidation layer would look pretty ugly, not to mention get smeared on anything that brushed up against it.

    Other than that and what has been said above, perhaps this would be useful as a heatsink / heat transfer material? For example, by attaching it in thin sheets (like the top pix, not the bottom) to a heating element and forcing air through the pores. It has incredible surface area!

  6. Matt P January 31, 2006 at 12:32 pm

    I’d be wary of using it in garden, it could leach into the soil.

  7. Adrian January 31, 2006 at 12:24 am

    Beeing made of Aluminium filled with air means it’s lightweight, and if it’s not brittle then a thicker sheet would be perfect as a shock absorber, for example in car doors (analogy with a beehive hexagonal structure).

    Of course this being a design studio you’d like something visible ;) but you can use this idea as a a starting point and get creative!

  8. Blackmoore January 30, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    I wonder if this would be a good roofing material, either as shingles, or sheets. If it is truely porus it could be a “filter” layer for a green roof.

  9. solidcube January 30, 2006 at 9:08 am

    One idea might be to put this stuff up in an hemi-icosahedron and blast it with shotcrete. It looks like it would make an absolutely wonderful matrix for that, and then you’d effectively have a reinforced concrete hemisphere. Then I’d think it would be of structural strength.

  10. Ro January 30, 2006 at 7:57 am

    Scott, but you could make a steel frame around it, right? You could use this as a tile on top of the regular steel stairways as well. Then you wouldn’t have the concerns of strucural strength.

    Good to hear that it does have sound absorbing properties. I wouldn’t mind seeing this in/on soundwalls next to highways, and then let the plants/moss go wild on it.

  11. i8bozo January 30, 2006 at 6:28 am

    i’d take a decent sized size chunk of it, resin it, then figure out how to use it as a coffee table top. possibly as an inlay on a nice wood base. the texture is fascinating and would make for a nice complement to something finely crafted from wood. call me crazy but that’s what i’d do.

  12. Scott Bennett January 30, 2006 at 4:28 am

    It has quite good sound absorption properties actually. From around 1kHz and up (the upper range of human speech), it has a sound absorption coefficient between .7-.85, which is really good. It should be good at damping noise in an office environment.

    I wouldn’t use it for stair treads- they don’t give any strength or stiffness data, and don’t recommend it be used in structural applications without consulting them first. Also, I think the exposed edges of a stair tread might be kind of soft.

    I like the idea of using it as a walkway. I think grass would grow pretty well through the open cell material.

  13. Ro January 29, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Interesting suggestions tim. I think it could be perfect for outdoor stairs (instead of the plain steel ones).

    And I’m wondering if this has sound absorbing properties as well. I’m not a material expert though. Anyone who can fill me in on that?

  14. tim January 28, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    It would be an interesting design to use it as an outdoor walkway, or stairs (without resin). I’m wondering if grasses/plants would grow up through the pores?

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