The challenge: The performance of foams is determined by the base material and, also, by the pores.
The outstanding properties of foams make them suitable for a wide range of applications. Foams play an important role in the design of lightweight components, due to their low density:
- Structural foams - for example, made from PMI (polymethacrylimide) or PET (polyethylene terephthalate) - are processed together with composite materials to form sandwich components commonly used in industries such as aviation.
- Particle foams - such as expanded polystyrene (EPS) or expanded polypropylene (EPP) - can be used to produce molded parts for the packaging industry.
- Some foams - such as EPP or metallic foams - are also suitable for use in crash absorbers, due to their high energy absorption.
- Foams are a typical insulating material due to their cellular structure which largely includes trapped air.
An immense testing effort is needed to determine the characteristic values of all these foam properties. The testing of the effects of varying parameters, such as cell sizes, cell wall thicknesses, or cell distribution, at the beginning of the manufacturing process is a difficult or impossible task without major adjustments.
Digital material design with GeoDict allows to change and optimize all these parameters in the computer, before manufacturing any prototypes. Only the most promising configurations are then produced as prototypes and for validation.
The GeoDict software is a digital material laboratory that offers a user-friendly complete solution for the development of tailor-made foams. In this digital workflow, samples of existing materials are scanned in a µCT and the data is imported into the software to create a 3D structure model. Then, a complete analysis of the geometric properties, such as cell size and cell size distribution, is carried out on the 3D structure model.
When no image data is available, complex microstuctures may be generated using the FoamGeo and GrainGeo modules of GeoDict. Then, the macroscopic material properties of the foam can be computed and predicted, based on the properties of the digitized microstructure model. A large number of solvers are developed in-house and available for this purpose - for example, for structural mechanics, conductivity, or fluid mechanics.
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Analyze and understand mechanical properties, properties dependent on the geometry, and other physical properties of the material at the microscale. For example, properties of fabrics, semi-finished products, or polymers. Optimize the properties based on the quantitative and qualitative results of simulations. With the GeoDict software, Math2Market offers the complete and versatile solution for digital materials Research & Development.
Added to the GeoDict Base, the GeoDict package for Digital Materials R&D includes all necessary modules for the research and development of foams.