Foam technologies

Foamed materials are increasingly used for transport packaging, heat insulation of buildings and also in particular in the automotive sector. The development of new foamed materials aims to optimize these products in terms of temperature resistance, energy absorption or recyclability.

Foam as a sandwich core material in wind turbines
© Fraunhofer ICT
Foam as a sandwich core material in wind turbines

Material development for thermoplastic foams

Foams with tailored properties have attracted increasing attention in the field of material development. Emphasis is placed on the development of foamable polymer compounds in the extrusion process, based on renewable resources and on the targeted use of functional additives, for example to improve the mechanical or thermal properties or to achieve environmentally-friendly fire protection.

SEM image of EPS
© Fraunhofer ICT
SEM image of EPS

Process development for extrusion foams

For the development of extrusion-foamed semi-finished products, sheets, and foils, Fraunhofer ICT has a cutting-edge Schaumtandex laboratory unit, which consists of a twin-screw and a single-screw extruder. With this equipment it is possible to test and specifically enhance new materials and blowing agent formulations with limited resource requirements, for example on sheets, foils or profiles. With this tandem foam laboratory unit we can offer our partners and customers extensive expertise in material and process technology in the field of extrusion.

Krauss Maffei, Tandem-Schaumextrusionsanlage zur Herstellung von geschäumten Halbzeugen
© Fraunhofer ICT
Krauss Maffei, Tandem-Schaumextrusionsanlage zur Herstellung von geschäumten Halbzeugen

Process development for particle foams

The entire process chain of particle foam technology is available at Fraunhofer ICT:

  • Material development and optimization of the foam structure in the extrusion process
  • Development of foamed beads or expandable granules by extrusion and subsequent underwater pelletizing
  • Investigations into the pre-expansion of granules in the laboratory pre-foamer
  • Investigations into processing in steam chest molding machines (based on steam and radio frequency)
  • Autoclave / batch foaming of particle foams
  • Characterization of insulation properties or mechanical parameters of the foams in the in-house testing lab

This complete process chain forms the basis for successful cooperation with our partners. New material mixtures can quickly be characterized in terms of their processability and component properties, for example insulation properties.

Particle foam and components
© Fraunhofer ICT
Particle foam and components