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Metal Foam Analysis: Improving Sandwich Structure Technology for Engine Fan and Propeller BladesThe Life Prediction Branch of the NASA Glenn Research Center is searching for ways to construct aircraft and rotorcraft engine fan and propeller blades that are lighter and less costly. One possible design is to create a sandwich structure composed of two metal faces sheets and a metal foam core. The face sheets would carry the bending loads and the foam core would have to resist the transverse shear loads. Metal foam is ideal because of its low density and energy absorption capabilities, making the structure lighter, yet still stiff. The material chosen for the face sheets and core was 17-4PH stainless steel, which is easy to make and has appealing mechanical properties. This material can be made inexpensively compared to titanium and polymer matrix composites, the two current fan blade alternatives. Initial tests were performed on design models, including vibration and stress analysis. These tests revealed that the design is competitive with existing designs; however, some problems were apparent that must be addressed before it can be implemented in new technology. The foam did not hold up as well as expected under stress. This could be due to a number of issues, but was most likely a result of a large number of pores within the steel that weakened the structure. The brazing between the face sheets and the foam was also identified as a concern. The braze did not hold up well under shear stress causing the foam to break away from the face sheets. My role in this project was to analyze different options for improving the design. I primarily spent my time examining various foam samples, created with different sintering conditions, to see which exhibited the most favorable characteristics for our purpose. Methods of analysis that I employed included examining strut integrity under a microscope, counting the number of cells per inch, measuring the density, testing the microhardness, and testing the strength under compression. Shear testing will also be done to examine the strengths of different types of brazes.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Fedor, Jessica L. (Notre Dame Univ. IN, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium II
Subject Category
Aircraft Propulsion and Power
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20050186580Analytic PrimaryResearch Symposium II