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12/27/2018 | 1 MINUTE READ

Fraunhofer researchers reliably characterize polyurethane foams

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Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics have succeeded in simulating the foaming behavior of polyurethane foams and reliably characterizing the material.

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Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics (Kaiserslautern, Germany) have succeeded in simulating the foaming behavior of polyurethane foams and reliably characterizing the material. This reportedly also works with composites where the foams are combined with textile structures.

Car seats, mattresses and insulating materials often consist of polyurethane (PU) foams. Since the foaming process of the liquid polymer emulsions is very complex, PU foams are difficult to characterize – experimental investigations often lead to incorrect parameters. Fraunhofer researchers claim they can now simulate the foaming behavior and reliably characterize the material. 

“Instead of starting with chemistry as before and experimentally determining all parameters such as reaction rates and viscosity in many independent experiments, we do two or three simple experiments – such as frothing in a beaker,” explains Dr. med. Konrad Steiner, head of Department at the Fraunhofer ITWM. “These simulations are simulated one-to-one in the computer, forming the basis for determining the necessary model parameters needed to calculate the foaming behavior, and the simulations based on the FOAM simulation tool are robust and the results are reliable for the application.” Thus, the researchers receive reliable data for the foaming process in a short time and with little effort. Once a PU foam has been characterized, a good basis for new products has been laid.

Composite foams are also used in composite materials, such as car support structures, which are said to be stable and lightweight. For this purpose, reinforcement structures such as textiles are integrated into the foams. Together with their colleagues at the Chair of Structural Lightweight Structures and Plastics Processing at the Chemnitz University of Technology (Chemnitz, Germany), the research team of the Fraunhofer ITWM has for the first time developed a simulation for such composite materials. Previously, manufacturers had to test whether the resulting foam composite has the desired properties – which typically takes several weeks or months. By contrast, the simulation is said to deliver a reliable result after one to two days.


This post is courtesy of the CompositesWorld and Springer lightweight.design magazine media partnership. For more information about Springer and lightweight.design, go to https://www.springerprofessional.de/en/link/12141380

 

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