Syntactic magnesium foams which consist of thin-walled hollow alumina spheres embedded in a magnesium matrix were fabricated by infiltrating a three-dimensional array of hollow spheres with a magnesium melt by using a gas pressure-assisted casting technique.
The resulting composite contains closed cells of homogeneous and isotropic morphology. The densities of the syntactic magnesium foams were between 1.0 and 1.4 g/cm3. The densities were controlled by variations in the bulk density of the hollow spheres with the volume fraction of spheres kept constant at approximately 63 %.
Compressive deformation characteristics of the composites were evaluated with respect to the influence of matrix strength and sphere wall thickness on characteristic variables such as compressive strength, plateau stress and energy absorption efficiency. Differences in the strength of the magnesium-based matrix materials investigated (cp-Mg, AM20, AM50, AZ91) had little influence on the compressive strength of the syntactic foam. However, an increasing relative wall thickness of the hollow ceramic spheres led to a significant strength enhancement. In all cases the ratio between compressive and plateau strength rose with increasing composite strength resulting in decreasing energy absorption efficiency.