FEA Modeling of Rubber and Elastomer Materials

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  • November 10, 2019

The application of computational mechanics analysis techniques to elastomers presents unique challenges in modeling the following characteristics:

– The load-deflection behaviour of an elastomer is markedly non-linear.

– The recoverable strains can be as high 400 % making it imperative to use the large

deflection theory.

– The stress-strain characteristics are highly dependent on temperature and rate effects are pronounced.

– Elastomers are nearly incompressible.

– Viscoelastic effects are significant.

The ability to model the special elastomer characteristics requires the use of sophisticated material models and non-linear Finite element analysis tools that are different in scope and theory than those used for metal analysis. Elastomers also call for superior analysis methodologies as elastomers are generally located in a system comprising of metal-elastomer parts giving rise to contact-impact and complex boundary conditions. The presence of these conditions require a judicious use of the available element technology and solution techniques.

FEA Support Testing

Most commercial FEA software packages use a curve-fitting procedure to generate the material constants for the selected material model. The input to the curve-fitting procedure is the stress-strain or stress-stretch data from the following physical tests:

1  Uniaxial tension test

2  Uniaxial compression test OR Equibiaxial tension test

3  Planar shear test

4  Volumetric compression test

A minimum of one test data is necessary, however greater the amount of test data, better the quality of the material constants and the resulting simulation. Testing should be carried out for the deformation modes the elastomer part may experience during its service life.

Curve-Fitting

The stress-strain data from the FEA support tests is used in generating the material constants using a curve-fitting procedure. The constants are obtained by comparing the stress-strain results obtained from the material model to the stress-strain data from experimental tests. Iterative procedure using least-squares fit method is used to obtain the constants, which reduces the relative error between the predicted and experimental values. The linear least squares fit method is used for material models that are linear in their coefficients e.g Neo-Hookean, Mooney-Rivlin, Yeoh etc. For material models that are nonlinear in the coefficient relations e.g. Ogden etc, a nonlinear least squares method is used.

Verification and Validation

In the FEA of elastomeric components it is necessary to carry out checks and verification steps through out the analysis. The verification of the material model and geometry can be carried out in three steps,

_ Initially a single element test can be carried out to study the suitability of the chosen material model.

_ FE analysis of a tension or compression support test can be carried out to study the material characteristics.

_ Based upon the feedback from the first two steps, a verification of the FEA model

can be carried out by applying the main deformation mode on the actual component

on any suitable testing machine and verifying the results computationally.

Figure 1: Single Element Test

Figure(1) shows the single element test for an elastomeric element, a displacement

boundary condition is applied on a face, while constraining the movement of the opposite face. Plots A and B show the deformed and undeformed plots for the single element. The load vs. displacement values are then compared to the data obtained from the experimental tests to judge the accuracy of the hyperelastic material model used.

Figure 2: Verification using an FEA Support Test

Figure (2) shows the verification procedure carrying out using an FEA support test.

Figure shows an axisymmetric model of the compression button. Similar to the single

element test, the load-displacement values from the Finite element analysis are compared to the experimental results to check for validity and accuracy. It is possible that the results may match up very well for the single element test but may be off for the FEA support test verification by a margin. Plot C shows the specimen in a testing jig. Plot D and E show the undeformed and deformed shape of the specimen.

Figure(3) shows the verification procedure that can be carried out to verify the FEA

Model as well as the used material model. The procedure also validates the boundary conditions if the main deformation mode is simulated on an testing machine and results verified computationally. Plot F shows a bushing on a testing jig, plots G and H show the FEA model and load vs. displacement results compared to the experimental results. It is generally observed that verification procedures work very well for plane strain and axisymmetric cases and the use of 3-D modeling in the present procedure provides a more rigorous verification methodology.

Figure 3: FEA Model Verification using an Actual Part

AdvanSES provides Hyperelastic, Viscoelastic Material Characterization Testing for CAE & FEA softwares.

Unaged and Aged Properties and FEA Material Constants for all types of Polymers and Composites. Mooney-Rivlin, Ogden, Arruda-Boyce, Blatz-ko, Yeoh, Polynomials etc.

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