Composite Metal Foam Outperforms Aluminum for Aircraft Wings

Image of Metal Foam
Composite metal foam with a ruler for scale. (Image: Afsaneh Rabiei)

The leading edges of aircraft wings have to meet a very demanding set of characteristics. New research shows that a combination of steel composite metal foam (CMF) and epoxy resin has more desirable characteristics for use as a leading-edge material than the aluminum currently in widespread use.

While infused CMF is about the same weight as aluminum, it is tougher and has other characteristics that make it more appealing from a flight performance, safety, and fuel efficiency standpoint. The infused CMF retained its properties through erosion and wear, indicating that it would give leading-edge wing components a longer lifetime and reduce costs associated with maintenance and replacement.