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NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF

AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE


ANALYSIS OF AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM
USING NEiNASTRAN

Dr. J.M. Mahishi, Director Engineering

MS&M Engineering Inc, Farmington Hills, MI, USA

SUMMARY

The Lower Control arm is the most vital component in a suspension


system. It is usually a steel bracket that pivots on rubber bushings mounted to
the chassis. The other end supports the lower ball joint. Significant amount of
loads are transmitted through the control arm while it serves to maintain the
contact between the wheel and the road and thus providing precise control of
the vehicle. The finite element analysis of the control arm using
NEiNASTRAN is presented. Inertia relief analysis was carried out as the
measured road loads were in self equilibrium. The zone of maximum stress in
most of the load cases studied is close to the left strut bush and around the
lower ball joint bush. Since the stresses exceed the material yield strength, a
nonlinear static analysis of the control arm was also carried out using
NEiNASTRAN and the results are compared well with MSC.NASTRAN and
ABAQUS analysis. Multi-axial Fatigue analysis using NEiNASTRAN and
WINLIFE is discussed.

1 Background

All the loads acting on the control arm are dynamic in nature. The vehicle
dynamics and desired ride and handling specifications of the vehicle require
that the control arm has certain stiffness. The design of control arms involves
optimising for strength, stiffness and weight. Designing for some less frequent
severe loads (pot holes, curb impact etc.) will lead to heavier sections. Based
on years of experience, designing practice allows for occasional overloads. As
a result the control arms have a limited life. A reliable fatigue analysis is
required to ensure that the control arms at least survive the expected life span
of the vehicle.

The approach in this study is to subject the control arms with bushings to
peak loads of varies operating conditions individually and perform static linear
Inertia relief analysis (Ref. 1-3). For the load cases in which the stresses exceed
yield strength of the material perform static non-linear analysis. Assuming that
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

all load cases are in sync and proportional, the fatigue life is estimated from
individual load conditions using the Miner’s cumulative theory. The
assumption that all loads act in sync provides a safe conservative estimate.
Whereas if more accurate estimate is required, the multi-axial alternating
fatigue stress state can be analysed using multi-axial module in WINLIFE.

2 Lower Control Arm FEA

The lower control arm is subjected to different magnitude of forces


depending on the event (Table 1). In real life these events occur in varying
sequence in and in varying combination.

Table 1: Typical road loads.

In order to develop an optimum weight, strength and stiffness of the control


arm, one has to study the response of the control arm during all operational
loading conditions.

The concept cast steel control arm was modeled using second order 19,000
tetra elements (Figure 1). The bushings were represented by spring elements
with spring rates in 3 directions.
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

Figure 1: Concept control arm.

3 Inertia relief analysis

The forces acting on the control arm are dynamic in nature. The measured
road loads are in equilibrium with the inertial forces from the sprung control
arm. To solve such systems NEiNASTRAN (also MSC.NASTRAN /
ABAQUS) provide a method in which the inertia forces are computed and
subtracted from applied loads. In applying static inertia relief method to
dynamic loading, it is assumed that the natural frequency of the system is at
least twice that of the highest loading frequency. (2). The results of static
inertia relief analysis are shown in Table 2.
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

Von Misses Stress Maj. Principal Stress

NEi MSC NEi MSC

1 1g Vert 287 299 329 321

2 3g Vert 891 887 990 986

3 Curb Push off Left Leading 349 341 386 379

4 Curb Push off Left Trailing 390 382 318 311

5 Max Aft Acc 444 438 498 490

6 Max Aft Brake 238 246 216 159

7 Max Corner Left Turn 119 132 123 127

8 Max Corner Right Turn 720 720 430 429

9 Max Fore Acc 183 180 199 189

10 Max Fore Brake 495 488 557 550

11 Max Roll Left In Jounce 683 678 735 731

12 Max Roll Right In Jounce 125 127 127 131

Table 2: Results of inertia relief analysis.

The NEiNASTRAN Inertia Relief Analysis required all 6 DOF to be


defined at a SUPPORT point, whereas in MSC.NASTRAN only translational
1, 2 and 3 DOF could be defined at 3 SUPPORT points in combination. The
stresses predicted by NEiNASTRAN are in close agreement to MSC.
NASTRAN.

Table 2 indicates that the stresses in 8 out of 12 load cases exceed the yield
strength of the material.
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

Figure 2: Principal stress and location for load case 11.

Figure 2 shows the Principal Stress Contour for the load case 11. The static
analysis indicates that the location of the Maximum Principal Stress for 4
higher amplitude stress load cases in Table 2 occur at a corner between the ball
bearing and front leg. This is a potential location of crack initiation and failure.
However, as will be discussed later, the occurrence of these peak load events is
less than some of the lower peak stress load events. The actual damage is
cumulative effect from all load cases.

It may be noted that the material experiences substantial increase in


ultimate strength when subjected to high impact loading as in the case of
potholes. The yield strength of the metals increases to the level of the increased
dynamic ultimate strength, essentially exhibiting brittle behaviour.

4 Nonlinear analysis
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

The linear static inertia relief analysis shows that the stresses are above
yield in 8 out of 12 load cases. It is necessary to perform nonlinear elastic-
plastic analysis. Static nonlinear analysis was performed on all load cases by
adjusting the loads with inertia forces and constraining at bushing.

Both MSC and NEi NASTRAN predict von Misses stress of 288 MPa for
the load case 11. This also compares well with 287 MPa predicted by
ABAQUS analysis. The efficiency of the iterative solution could not be
established as the programs were running on different computer platforms and
different operating systems

Figure 3 shows the effective plastic strain contours for load case 11.

Figure 3: Effective plastic strains.

The effective stress and effective strain are plotted in Figure 4.


NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

Figure 4: Elastic and plastic strains at the stress concentration location.

The analysis predicts that there will be permanent set after unloading.

5 Fatigue Analysis

In the absence of stress state during non-event, which may have some
negative stress component, all maximum stresses listed in the table
corresponding to different events are actually the alternative stress ranges.
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

Figure 5: Stress range for different load cases.

The linear stress analysis shows that all load cases individually produce a
limited life for the component. The stress distribution also shows that the
maximum stress state occurs at the same location for some of the events. In
which case, a cumulative damage theory had to be used to calculate the life.
The life of the component depends on the frequency of occurrence of different
events. In actual life of the component some of the events are far less frequent
than the other. Figure 6 schematically shows different stress amplitudes and
their corresponding expected number of cycles (ni).
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

Figure 6: Schematic representation of stress amplitudes and individual number of


load cycles (ni).

Figure 7 shows the strain-life curve used to predict the number of cycles to
failure for higher amplitude load cases.

WINLIFE Basic will provide a means of estimating life N1, N2, … Ni


during individual events using Normal Stress/ Strain life curves.
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

Figure 7: Strain-life curve for the material.

The computed numbers of cycles to failure are listed in Table 3.

Load Case 2Nf

2 9,000

8 76,000

10 100,000

11 88,000

Table 3: Number of cycles (2Nf) to failure for 2, 8, 10 and 11 load cases.

Since the load events 2, 8, 10 and 11 produce max stress state at the same
location, the life is estimated using Palmer Miner Cumulative damage theory.
This is assuming that the max fatigue stresses in all these load cases act in the
same plane. According to Palmgren-Miner hypothesis, failure occurs when:
NONLINEAR STATIC AND MULTI-AXIAL FATIGUE ANALYSIS OF
AUTOMOTIVE LOWER CONTROL ARM USING NEiNASTRAN

∑ inj / Nj >=1 (1)

j=1

This will give the Cumulative damage life. It was not possible to include
the OEM’s ni values here.

Even though events 2, 8, 10 and 11 produce max stress at same location,


the directions of the principal planes are different. The same location will be
subjected to cyclic fatigue loading in different planes simultaneously. In this
case the Multi-axial Fatigue should be used. The multi-axial module of the
WINLIFE can be used to compute the life in this case as explained in
Reference 4.

6 Conclusions

The paper presents a FEA approach to solve a dynamic low-cycle-fatigue


problem using linear Inertia Relief method and nonlinear elastic-plastic
analysis using NEiNASTRAN. A further automation of the approach can make
use of WINLIFE multi-axial fatigue for more accurate fatigue life prediction.

REFERENCES

1. MSC/NASTRAN Reference Manual


2. VELLAICHAMY, S and KESHTKAR, H - New approach to modal
transient fatigue analysis, SAE 00C-136, 2000
3. VELLAICHAMY, S - Transient dynamic fatigue analysis using inertia
relief approach with modal resonance augmentation, SAE 2002-01-3119,
2002
4. WILLMERDING, G, HACKH, J, and SCHNODEWIND, K - Fatigue
Calculations Using WINLIFE, NAFEMS Seminar, Wiesbaden, Germany,
Nov. 2000