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Solid state foaming of nanocomposites pp.1089-1102 $100.00
Authors:  (Guglielmotti A., Lucignano C., Quadrini F., University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Italy)
Abstract:
Porosity in dense engineering materials is often undesirable for load-bearing applications.
However, porosity is highly beneficial for weight and cost reduction, damping, thermal
insulation and specific strength. Moreover, they are extensively used in several industrial
application: automotive, aeronautic, naval. In the last years, the attention was focused on new
materials because they combine good mechanical properties with low weight.
The method for making foams is straightforward: generating bubbles and stabilizing them
within the matrix. There are two major foaming methodologies: soluble foaming (or physical
foaming) and reactive foaming (or chemical foaming). The former is generally applied to
thermoplastics and involves the mixture of a polymer melt and a blowing agent. The latter is
typical for thermosets and involves the addition of reactants for the gas evolution. In both
cases, the same three steps are necessary: gas implementation, gas expansion and foam
stabilization. Different organic solvents (hexane or cyclohexane) are used as physical blowing
agents. Alternatively a chemical foaming agent can be adopted so that a gas is released during
the cross-linking reaction. In this case, an epoxy foam is synthesized with an optimum ratio of
epoxy amine blowing agent. Moreover, the polymer matrix is always processed in a liquid
state by means of plasticators (for thermoplastics) or mixers (for thermosets).
In this chapter a new foaming process is described for thermosetting resins. Uncured
resin tablets are fabricated pressing commercial powders in a steel mold at room temperature
and used as foam precursors. Then the tablets foam when heated in a muffle at high
temperature. No blowing agent was added because the foaming mechanism depends on the
uncured resin boiling point. The foaming temperature is set to be high enough to rapidly
produce the resin boiling but not excessive to avoid the thermal degradation. During boiling,
the resin polymerizes and the bubbles froze in the final structure. 


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Solid state foaming of nanocomposites pp.1089-1102