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Load Bracket Design Project

Final Report
ME 240: Introduction to Mechanical Design and Manufacturing
June 3, 2016
Jonathan Atler
Samantha Letscher
Alexander Martin
Noah Rosenthal

Abstract
Two load-bearing brackets were designed to fail between 2000N and 2500N. The first was
designed to fail at the holes in the bottom member due to stress concentrations in tension at
2500N. When tested, it failed in buckling in the top member at 2800N, past the desired failure
range. The design did not fail due to stress concentrations in the holes at 2500N as calculated,
and a post-test analysis showed that the calculations for the stress concentrations were off by a
factor of two. This incorrect calculation meant that the bracket did not fail in the correct failure
range. The calculations were corrected and the second bracket was designed to fail in tension in
the bottom members at 2300N. When tested, it failed at the holes in the bottom member due to
hole shear at 1200N, not reaching the desired failure range. The hole shear occurred at a smaller
force than calculated because of manufacturing errors in the holes and weakening of the material
near the holes due to spot welding. The failure of the first bracket showed the importance of
accurate failure analysis when designing a bracket. The failure of the second bracket showed the
importance of precise manufacturing methods and knowledge of the effect of fastening methods,
such as spot welding, on the strength of materials. If a third bracket were to be designed, it would
be beneficial to eliminate spot welding from the bottom members altogether.
Introduction
A project to design and build two iterations of a load-bearing, two-member bracket intended to
fail between 2000N and 2500N was conducted in order to practice force and failure analysis,
mechanical design, and manufacturing skills. The two brackets were subjected to an upwards,
increasing load until failure in the below fixture (see Figure 1). The first bracket (see Figure 2)
was designed conceptually based upon a force and failure analysis and the second bracket (see
Figure 3) was designed to improve upon the first design, informed by failure results of the first
design. Points A, B, and C on this diagram are indicated and will be referenced in the rest of this
document.

Figure 1: Test Fixture

Figure 2: First Bracket

Figure 3: Second Bracket

Conceptual and Preliminary Design Considerations


The primary design objective was to design a load-bearing sheet metal bracket to fit the test
fixture (see Figure 1) and to fail between 2000N and 2500N. The preliminary design was also
chosen to meet the following secondary criteria:
1. Simplified loading and failure analysis
2. Simplified manufacturing
3. Minimized cost and weight
These criteria were considered when developing the initial design (see Figure 2). The second
bracket (see Figure 3) was designed with these criteria in mind, but the design was also
significantly informed by the failure results from the first test.
Detailed Design
First Iteration
Material Selection
Steel was chosen over aluminum because of the ability to spot weld the steel members. Spot
welding was chosen as an ideal fixture method because of the low cost and weight and simple
manufacturing process. The thicker steel was used for all members, 0.04 thick, based on force
calculations, shown in the following section.

Components
Member BC (see Figure 4) was designed as a U-beam manufactured out of two L-beams. The
two-part composition was chosen to simplify manufacturing, and the U-beam was chosen to
withstand greater buckling forces, shown in the force analysis section below.

Figure 4: Member BC, V1

The two identical AC members were designed as thin sheet metal members for simple assembly
and manufacturing. The middle section tapered in order to cut down on weight and cost, as force
calculations, in the following section, showed that a smaller width was sufficient to withstand the
tensile loads away from the hole concentrations.

Figure 5: Members AC, V1

Simple reinforcement plates were used in order to protect against premature failure due to hole
concentration stresses.

Figure 6: Reinforcement plates, V1

Assembly
Member BC was set as horizontal in order to simplify the connection point to the load. The
connection point of the members was chosen to be at loading point C in order to simplify force
and failure analysis as two force members are the most simple members to analyze. Dimensions
were chosen based upon force and failure calculations, explained in the following section.

Figure 7: Assembly, V1
BOM
Table 1: Bill of Materials, V1
Item No.

Description

Quantity

Cost

M5 nut

5 (3 provided)

$0.03/nut

Member AB

$2.10/lb

Member BC

$2.10/lb

M5 x 6 Hex Bolt

$0.09/bolt

M5 x 40 Hex Bolt

Provided

Member BC reinforcing plates

$0.025/in^2

Second Iteration
Material selection
Steel was once again chosen over aluminum because of the ability to spot and tack weld the steel
members, a low cost/weight option and a simple manufacturing process. The thicker steel, .04
thick, was used again for member BC in order to ensure that failure would not occur in member
BC, as the buckling failure mode for member BC is difficult to predict because the critical
buckling is largely affected by material and manufacturing imperfections. Thus it was
determined that failure could be most easily achieved between 2000N and 2500N if the bracket
was designed to fail in tension in the identical AC members. The thinner steel, thickness .02,
was chosen based on force calculations shown in the following section.

Components
Member BC (see Figure 8) was designed as a U-beam manufactured out of a single piece of
0.04 steel. A single piece was used in order to eliminate the separation that occurred during the
testing and avoid spot welding more than necessary. The sides of the beam were reinforced with
two side plates (see Figure 9) that were tack welded on.

Figure 8: Member BC, V2

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Figure 9: Reinforcement Plate for Member BC, V2

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The two identical AC members (see Figure 10) were redesigned as flat pieces of 0.02 steel sheet
metal. The tapered middle section was included again in order to cut down on weight and cost,
although it was wider than the first design to account in part for the thinner material.

Figure 10: Members AC, V2

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The reinforcement plate were used again in the second design to withstand the concentrated
stresses around the holes. However, the second design required two different shapes of
reinforcing plates (Figures 11 and 12).

Figure 11: Reinforcement plate 1, V2

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Figure 12: Reinforcement plate 2, V2

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Assembly
As in version 1, in version 2 (see Figure 13) member BC was placed horizontal with the tip of
the testing rod, and members BC and AC were fastened together at point C using two M5 bolts to
allow them to function as two-force members. Unlike before, the two components of member AC
were fastened to the inside of member BC, because the small moment that would be induced
during testing would help resist the tendency for the sides of member BC to buckle, rather than
add to it, as was the case with the first design. Dimensions were again based on force and failure
calculations, shown in the following section.

Figure 13: Bracket Version 2 Assembly

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Table 2: Bill of Materials, V2


Item No.

Description

Quantity

Cost

M5 nut

5 (3 provided) $0.03/nut

Member AB

$2.81/lb

Member BC

$2.10/lb

M5 x 6 Hex Bolt

$0.09/bolt

M5 x 40 Hex Bolt

Provided

Member BC reinforcing plates

$2.10/lb

Member AB reinforcing plates

$2.10/lb

Member AB inside reinforcing


plates

$2.10/lb

Engineering Calculations
Force and failure analysis
Bracket geometry was determined from the force analysis shown in Figure 14. Variables
referenced are in Figure 14. XC and YC were set by the test fixture, given at 0.11m and 0.13m,
respectively. XD was chosen to be the same as XC so that both members were two-force members,
eliminating bending forces and simplifying analysis. YB was chosen to be the same as YC in order
to make the member horizontal for easy attachment to loading point C. YA was then optimized to
meet the loading criteria for the bracket to fail within 2000N and 2500N theoretically. The
remaining geometry was modeled from these three variables. In the loading analysis, the forces
acting on both members were first calculated and then the buckling stress and compressive
stresses in beam BC and the tensile, hole concentration, and hole shear stresses in beam AC were
determined.

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Figure 14: Force Analysis


Load carrying capacity
First Iteration
Member dimensions and materials were chosen using a Excel formulas that calculated buckling
stress in beam BC, compressive stress in beam BC, tensile stress in beam AC, hole stress
concentration in beam AC, and hole shear in beam AC. The first version of the bracket was made
entirely out of the thicker steel material, which delivered ideal support for the loading conditions.
The dimensions in Figure 15 were chosen so that the bracket would theoretically fail at 2500N in
hole concentration stress and come close to failure in hole shear stress and tensile stress based off
of our analysis seen in Figure 16. However, when tested, the bracket failed at 2800N due to a
buckling moment in beam BC. This revealed that our analysis was off by a factor of two for the
hole shear and stress concentration as the fact that the force was split between the two beams in
AC was not taken into account. Additionally, mounting and manufacturing imprecisions caused a
greater buckling moment than was anticipated.
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Figure 15: Beam Dimensions, V1

Figure 16: Stress Analysis, V1

Second Iteration

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In the second iteration of the bracket, a similar analysis was performed with some tweaks. The
hole shear and stress calculations were corrected and a hole pullout stress calculation was added.
Additionally, the dimension inputs were changed to be in inches to facilitate manufacturing
accuracy. With the previous failure in mind, the second iteration was designed to ensure that
beam AC would fail in tension at around 2300 N. To do so, a thinner steel material was chosen
for beam AC and the dimensions of the beam were set where our analysis indicated a tensile
failure, as seen in Figures 17 and 18. Additionally, the dimensions of beam BC were altered in
order to simplify manufacturing and accommodate a larger buckling moment. The height of the
beam was reduced so that it could be manufactured with one piece of steel instead of having to
weld two parts together. The vertical sides of the U-beam were reinforced with another layer of
steel making buckling very improbable, as seen in Figure 18. Reinforcement plates were used at
the connection points to prevent hole concentration and hole shear stress failures. All of the
chosen dimensions were in inches and divisible by 16 so that they would be easy to measure and
manufacture in the shop.

Figure 17: Beam Dimensions, V2

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Figure 18: Stress Analysis, V2

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Manufacturing
First Iteration
Manufacturing steps for each component
Member BC was made from two components. Each one was cut out of thick steel using the sheet
metal shearing machine and bent into an L-shape using the sheet metal bending machine.
Reinforcement plates were then spot welded on, and the two L-shaped sections were spot welded
together to form the final U-shape. It was necessary to cut out a rectangular section from the top
of end B with a bandsaw so that the member could attach to the testing apparatus.
Members AC were made from thick sheet metal. The rectangular shape was cut out from a stock
piece using the large sheet metal shears, and the more complicated geometry was cut out using
the small sheet metal shears. Reinforcement plates were then spot welded on.
Holes were drilled out of each member using a mill. For members AC, a jig was manufactured to
hold the part during milling. For member BC, a block of wood as thick as the inside of the
member was used to reinforce and hold the member during milling. Each hole was first centertapped then drilled to dimension.
Assembly sequence
Members AC were fastened to member BC using 2x M3x5 hex bolts and nuts. The bracket was
fastened to the testing apparatus with supplied 2x M3x25 bolts and nuts and the provided M5
threaded rod and nuts (see Figure 2).
Second Iteration
Manufacturing steps for each component
The basic rectangular shape for member BC was cut out of thick steel using the sheet metal
shearing machine and bent into a U-shape using the sheet metal bending machine. Reinforcement
plates were then spot welded on. It was necessary to cut out a rectangular section from the top of
end B with a bandsaw so that the member could attach to the testing apparatus.
Members AC were made from thin sheet metal. The rectangular shape was cut out from a stock
piece using the large sheet metal shears, and the more complicated geometry was cut out using
the bandsaw. Reinforcement plates were then spot welded on.
Holes were drilled out of each member using a drill press. For members AC, a jig was
manufactured to hold the part during drilling. For member BC, a block of wood as thick as the
inside of the member was used to reinforce and hold the member during drilling. Each hole was
first center-tapped then drilled to dimension.
It should be noted that the location of the holes in members AC at the connection point to
member BC were incorrectly manufactured. As a result, it was necessary to use an end mill to
lengthen the holes (which became oblong) to fit the fasteners properly. The lengthened holes

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interfered with the spot welds for the reinforcement plates, which ultimately led to failure in the
bracket.
Assembly sequence
Members AC were fastened to member BC using 2x M3x5 hex bolts and nuts. The bracket was
fastened to the testing apparatus with supplied 2x M3x25 bolts and nuts and the supplied M5
threaded rod and nuts (see Figure 3).
Performance Assessment
First Iteration
Load test results

Figure 19: First Iteration Failure


The first iteration failed at 2800 N due to buckling in Member BC (see Figure 19). Because the
member failed due to buckling, the testing machine was unable to provide numerical test data in
a tabulated format (it only provides this data upon detecting fracture). The test result curve up to
buckling as drawn in the software controlling the test device is shown in Figure 20.

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Figure 20: First Iteration Test Data


Performance Index
P = 0.4
c = $2.10/lb * 0.33lb + 2($0.09+$0.03) = $0.93
M = 150g = 0.33lb
(1-t) = 0.969
P
I=
(1t) = 1.26 ($lb)-1
cm

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Dimensional adherence to the drawing


Table 3: Manufacturing index for the first bracket
Nominal
Dimension

Actual
Dimension

% Error

0.2

0.205

2.50%

5.12

5.21

1.76%

0.98

1.106

12.86%

0.79

0.832

5.32%

0.2

0.199

0.50%

6.26

6.263

0.05%

6.26

6.275

0.24%

0.91

0.936

2.86%

0.91

0.907

0.33%

10

0.04

0.038

5.00%

Average error

3.14%

Quality of workmanship
The quality of workmanship on the first bracket was high, as indicated by low average
manufacturing error of 3.14%. The use of a jig for member AB allowed the holes to be accurately
drilled on the mills. However, these holes were initially put in the wrong location due to user
error (the mill operator forgot to account for the width of an edge finder). This only changed the
planned spacing of the mount points in the test device and did not significantly impact the
design.
The lowest quality workmanship for this design occurred in the spot welds; several were done
improperly the first time and did not penetrate. These welds subsequently fractured when the
upper member was clamped in a mill vice, and the components had to be repaired with a TIG
welder (because the member was already bent and could not be spot welded).

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Second Iteration
Load test results

Figure 21: Second Iteration Test Data


Figure 21 shows the test data from the second iteration testing. During this test, the second
iteration failed at 1200 N due to hole shear stress in Member AC at point C (see Figure 22).
However, the point of failure was not visible until the bracket was removed from the test device
and disassembled, whereupon it was found that one of the lower members had failed due to hole
shear (Figure 23).

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Figure 22: Second Iteration Failure

Figure 23: Closeup of second iteration failure.


The member failed at point C due to hole shear.
Performance index
P=0
c = $2.10/lb * 0.265lb + 2($0.09+$0.03) = $0.57
M = 120g = 0.265lb

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(1-t) = 0.975
P
I=
(1t) = 0 ($lb)-1
cm
Because the second bracket failed at 1200 N, which falls outside the scoring range for the P
variable in the performance index formula, the performance index is 0.

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Dimensional adherence to the drawing


Table 4: Manufacturing index for the second bracket
Nominal
Dimension

Actual
Dimension

% Error

0.75

0.73

2.74%

0.56

0.57

1.75%

0.49

0.5

2.00%

0.02

0.019

5.26%

5.47

5.45

0.37%

1.06

1.09

2.75%

0.53

0.512

3.52%

4.33

4.42

2.04%

0.54

0.561

3.74%

10

0.75

0.746

0.54%

Average error

2.47%

Quality of workmanship
The second iteration of the design also had a low average manufacturing error of 2.47%. Since
the design did not change much from the first version, similar processes and jigs were used. One
change that was made to save time and avoid pre-stressing the bracket was the use of a drill press
to make the pin holes, instead of a mill. This sacrificed some locational accuracy in exchange for
not having to clamp the part as tightly and being able to manufacture the holes more rapidly.
Though the manufacturing error calculated was low, poor workmanship in drilling the holes
contributed to the failure of the second design. The location of the holes was slightly off, and it
was necessary to use an end mill to lengthen the holes (which became oblong) to fit the fasteners
properly. The holes which were manufactured improperly were on member AC at the connection
point to member BC, which is where failure occurred. This compounded with the location of the
spot welds, which may have been too deep and close to the hole location, caused the failure.

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Post-mortem Analysis and Conclusions


The low performance index of the second bracket iteration was found to be the result of improper
manufacturing. The reinforcement plates on member AC were spot welded on, and the member
failed across one of these spot welds which was located between a hole and the edge of the
member (Figure 23 above). The spot weld created a porous and brittle area of material, which
weakened it and led to premature failure of the area around the hole. This along with the
improper manufacturing of the holes, discussed above, caused premature failure. There is reason
to believe that if member AC had been manufactured without spot welds and the holes positioned
correctly initially, it would have failed in the range of 2000N to 2500N, since no other parts of
the bracket had visibly deformed when failure occurred, indicating failure was still some ways
off for the other components.
Although the second bracket performed worse than the first bracket, this was due to its
manufacturing. If a third iteration were to be created, it would not include spot welds on the
bottom member at all; instead, the reinforcing plates would be created by extra material for the
bottom member and bending it back over on itself. This would create a thicker portion for the
areas around the bolt holes, while not requiring any weakening in planes passing through the
holes.
The first bracket failed due to incorrect failure analysis. The second bracket failed due to
manufacturing errors and weakening of the material during manufacturing. In the process of
analyzing these failures, the importance of accurate analysis of the design and manufacturing of
the entire bracket was realized. The first failure at 2800N could have been prevented by accurate
failure analysis on the bracket geometry. The second, premature failure at 1200N could have
been prevented by further knowledge of and research into the effect of manufacturing methods,
such as widening the holes to be oblong and spot welding the reinforcement plates to the
members. It also was clear that when designing a load-bearing bracket, or any mechanical
fixture, after initial failure analysis, extensive testing and iterating will be necessary in order to
ensure success.

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