Polymer Foam Core by Foam Extrusion Process Technology
Demand for new materials with higher strength to weight ratios has created a strong interest in sandwich composite technology utilising light weight core materials to increase the bending stiffness of a beam / panel without adding excessive weight to it. Among the light weight core materials, polymeric foam can potentially offers opportunities for customisation to application requirements, such as water proof, sound absorptions, etc. Demand for polymeric foam can expect to increase as awareness on benefits of using it as light weight core increases.
Contact PersonTong Kin Kong, Steven(steven@SIMTech.a-star.edu.sg)
Through design of material formulations and processing conditions, it is possible to develop foam of varying characteristics and performance. SIMTech has acquired a foam extruder to pursue this area of research under the polymer team of Forming Technology Group. The team comprises of researchers with material chemistry and process background to undertake studies on the influence of materials and processing conditions on the cell morphologies, thermal and mechanical performance (e.g. compression set), and densities of the foams so as to be able to customise the fabrication of thermoplastic foams.
Foam extrusion is a continuous process of fabricating light weight polymeric foam. Challenges to be anticipated in this technology come from the complexity of the process itself as it involves injection of gases into polymer melts, and controlling the process conditions to achieve solution and dissolutions of gases in the polymer melt at different stages along the process. Different blowing agents will also have different solubility in different polymers and added to it, not all polymers are foamable.