Most of the train bodies today are made of metal alloys or different kinds of fiber glass. German engineers in Chemtiz have unveiled a prototype train body that is based on a material called Aluminum foam. They claim that using Aluminum foam technology will improve the design, mobility, and lessen the accidental damage concerns.
The foam technology consists primarily of a 25mm foamy layer surrounded by a couple of 2 mm thick Aluminum sheets. The foamy layer consists of an airy mixture of Magnesium, Silicon, Copper, and Aluminum. There is no welding or advanced joining processes required as the double ended plate is held together by the metallic bonds.
The new body gives impressive results. It is 20 percent lighter than conventional Fiberglass thus giving it better efficiency and speed. It is also a very tough material. The hardness was tested several times during stress tests. The advantage of the foamy material becomes pronounced here as it stretches a great deal before failing in the end. This experiment shows remarkable impact resilience as well as the recyclability of the Aluminum foam technology.
This Aluminum foam is by no means a recent development. It was discovered in 1960s, but it was too expensive to be manufactured for the commercial sector, so it found its way to oblivion until the German attempt. They did so because Fraunhofer Institute has come up with a manufacturing process to revitalize the Aluminum foam concept and slashing down 60 percent of the costs of manufacture. These advancements will help Europe catch up with the superior train technology of the Asian countries like Japan.