You are on page 1of 18

Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

1. Introduction

 What are Leaf Springs?


A leaf spring is a simple form of spring commonly used for
the suspension in wheeled vehicles. Originally called a laminated or carriage spring,
and sometimes referred to as a semi-elliptical spring or cart spring, it is one of the
oldest forms of springing, appearing on carriages in England after 1750 and from
there migrating to France and Germany[1].

Fig No. 1 Semi-Elliptical Leaf spring [2]

The flat plates are called leaves of the springs. The leaves have graduated lengths. The
leaf at the top has maximum length. The length gradually decreases from top leaf to
bottom leaf. The longest leaf at the top is called master leaf. It is bent at both ends to
from the spring eyes.

Multi leaf spring are provided with one or two extra full length leaves in addition to
master leaf. These extra full length leaves are provided to support the transverse shear
force [3].

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 1


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

Why to use Leaf spring for suspension ?

In the coil springs vs. leaf springs debate, both have an equal share of advantages and
disadvantages. Despite being more expensive to retrofit into a vehicle, coil springs are
less costly to produce. Additionally, coil springs are more compact and less prone to
friction.

A pair of leaf springs, however, can offer the same amount of suspension as coil
springs with a four-link assembly. In addition to their simplicity, leaf springs reduce
the sway of a truck along uneven terrain.

Generally, leaf springs work best when they consist of thinner, multiple-stacked
leaves, as this offers the twin benefits of flexibility and load control. Even though leaf
springs are heavier and take up more space, they are easy to install and provide
reliable rear suspension in vehicles of all sizes.

Moreover, the advantage of the leaf spring over helical spring is that it acts as a
structural member, in addition to an energy absorbing device. The leaf spring is
capable of taking lateral loads. Braking torque and driving torque in addition to
shocks.

Materials of Conventional Leaf spring :-

The automobile leaf spring are normally made of oil hardened and tempered alloy
steel like:-

1. 50Crl
2. 50CrlV23
3. 55Si2Mn90

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 2


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

What are composites and why to use them ?

Leaf springs are mainly used in suspension systems to absorb shock loads in
automobiles like light motor vehicles, heavy trucks and in rail systems. It carries
lateral loads, brake torque, driving torque in addition to shock absorbing.
The Advantage of leaf spring over helical spring is that the ends of the spring may be
guided along a definite path as it deflects to act as a
Structural member in addition to energy absorbing device. According to the studies
made a material with maximum strength & minimum modulus of elasticity in the
longitudinal direction is the most suitable material for a leaf spring.
To meet the need of natural resources conservation, automobile manufacturers are
attempting to reduce the weight of vehicles in recent years .
Weight reduction can be achieved primarily by the introduction of better material,
design optimization & better manufacturing processes. The suspension leaf spring is
one of the potential items for weight reduction in automobiles unsprung
weight. This achieves the vehicle with more fuel efficiency and improved riding
qualities.
The introduction of composite materials was made it possible to reduce the weight of
leaf spring without any reduction on load carrying capacity and stiffness.
For weight reduction in automobiles as it leads to the reduction of un-sprung weight
of automobile. The elements whose weight is not transmitted to the suspension spring
are called the un-sprung elements of the automobile. This includes wheel assembly,
axles, and part of the weight of suspension spring and shock absorbers. The leaf
spring accounts for 10-20% 0f the un-sprung weight. The composite materials made it
possible to reduce the weight of machine element without any reduction of the load
carrying capacity.

Because of composite material’s high elastic strain energy storage capacity and high
strength-to-weight ratio compared with those of steel , FRP springs also have

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 3


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

excellent fatigue resistance and durability. But the weight reduction of the leaf spring
is achieved not only by material replacement but also by design optimization.
Weight reduction has been the main focus of automobile manufacturers in the present
scenario. The replacement of steel with optimally designed composite leaf spring can
provide substantial weight reduction.
Hence, composite material becomes a very strong candidate for such
applications.
The introduction of composite materials has made it possible to reduce the weight of
leaf spring without any reduction on load carrying capacity.
Moreover the composite leaf spring has lower stresses compared to steel spring. All
these will result in fuel saving which will make countries energy independent because
fuel saved is fuel produced [1].

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 4


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

1. Methodology for Glass-Fiber composite

 Material Selection [2]


I. Epoxy resin- Araldite LY 556 with hardener Aradur HY 951
II. Unidirectional glass fibers
III. Fly ash
 Material combination
I. Matrix : Epoxy LY 556
II. Reinforcement: Glass Fiber (60%) + ash(10%)
III. Hardener : HY 951
IV. Mixture of resin and hardener : 100:12

Terminologies of Important terms :-

1) Epoxy Resin- Epoxy resins are low molecular weight pre-polymers or


higher molecular weight polymers which normally contain at least two
epoxide groups [3].

2) Aradur HY 951 - Aradur HY 951 is a hardener which is used with the epoxy
resin which is used for the encapsulation or coating [4]

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 5


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

2. Fabrication technique for Glass-fiber composite

Fabrication process includes selection of constant cross-section, due to its capabilities


for mass production which accommodates mould continuous reinforcement fibers and
also it is suitable for Hand lay-up technique. Initially the dimensions of leaf spring are
marked o the wooden board for mould preparation and it is cut according to the
marking and pieces are joined to obtain the mould. The wooden mould is coated with
wax. A first layer of glass fibers is laid uniformly with some initial tension and then
resin is applied gently brushes and squeezed by metal strip for proper spreading and to
remove excess resin. This process is continued till the required dimensions are
obtained. Care must be taken during the individual lay-up of the layers to eliminate
the fiber distortion, which could result in lowering the strength and rigidity of the
spring as a whole [2]

Following Table shows the dimensions of Mono-leaf spring:-

Parameters At center(mm) At eye end(mm)


Width 42 22
Thickness 28 16
Table No. 1

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 6


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

3. Experimental procedure and various test’s

In the test as per ASTM D790 standard bending testing method, the specimen is
placed on two parallel supporting pins. The loading force is applied in the middle by
means of loading pins. The supporting and loading pins are mounted in a way,
allowing their free rotation about axis parallel to the pin axis and axis parallel to the
specimen axis [2]

 TEST’S
I. Comparison of deflections :-

The stresses are predominantly stresses. For the same load the deflection of composite
leaf spring is less than of steel leaf spring.

Following table shows the comparison for the bending test carried out b/w steel and
composite leaf spring:-

Load(KN) Deflection for steel leaf Deflection for composite


spring(mm) leaf spring(mm)
0.5 5.0 0
1 13.5 0

3 46.1 2.2
5 68.0 5.2
6 89.4 35.3
7 101.8 66.5
7.7 115.6 91.8
Table No. 2

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 7


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

Fig.No.1 Graph of Load vs deflection [2]

II. Strength Comparison :-

Based on the bending test, strength comparison is made b/w steel and composite
leaf spring [2]:-

Material Static Maximum Maximum Weight


load (KN) bending stress Deflection (Kg)
(MPa) (mm)
Steel 7700 512 115.6 26
Composite 7700 417 91.8 5
Table No. 3

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 8


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

4. Methodology of Al-B4C and Carbon composite

 Methodology [5]:-

Aluminum and boron carbide based composite material were used to manufacture leaf
spring. Specimen based on carbon epoxy was prepared using hand layout technique
and metal matrix based was prepared using stir casting method.

 Specimen Preparation:-

Specimen was prepared using epoxy resin as a matrix material and hardener with
carbon fiber as the reinforcement material using hand layup fabrication technique.
The specimen was prepared as per ASTM standards.

The properties of EN45 and carbon epoxy material are given in the following table:-

Properties EN45A Carbon Epoxy


Young’s Modulus, 207000 123000
E(N/mm2)
Poisons Ratio 0.266 0.282
Tensile Strength(MPa) 1158 1841
Density(kg/m3) 7850 1400
Table No. 4

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 9


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

Aluminum 7075 and boron carbide of 600 mesh size were used to manufacture metal
matrix based leaf spring. Boron carbide (B4C) of 600 mesh size was used as
reinforcement material. Mechanical properties of aluminum and boron carbide are
given in Table No. 5:-

Property Aluminum 7075 Boron Carbide


Yield Strength(MPa) 240-275 ----
Ultimate Tensile 530-575 450-750
Strength(MPa)
Elongation(%) 11 ----
Hardness(HRB) 150 2900-3580
Density(g/cm3) 2.81 2.52
Table No. 5

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 10


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

5. Fabrication technique

Muffle Furnace was used to heat the aluminum to desired temperature. The mould of
leaf spring was prepared by using TATA ACE leaf spring. Aluminum was heated to
temperature of about 900oC in furnace. Alongside, boron carbide was pre-heated to
about 500oC temperature in order to remove the dissolved gases which would have
otherwise resulted in the formation of blow-holes, during the casting process. Then
the powder of boron carbide was added to the molten Aluminum 7075 alloy. The
mixture of aluminum and boron carbide was stirred with the help of stir casting
machine at 900 rpm for about 10 minutes in order to ensure proper homogeneous of
the materials. When the materials get properly mixed, the molten mixture of
aluminum 7075 and boron carbide was transferred to the prepared mould of the leaf
spring (as shown in Fig.1.0) [5]

Fig.No. 2 Mixture of Al-B4C pouring into mould

The molten mixture thus allowed to solidify for some time. The solidified piece of
leaf spring was then allowed to cool in air and was withdrawn from the mould. Leaf

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 11


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

spring prepared from aluminum and boron carbide metal matrix composite is as
shown in Fig. 2.0.

Fig.No. 3 Al-B4C prepared metal matrix composite leaf spring [5]

The carbon fiber was also used for fabrication of composite leaf spring. First the
fibers was cut according to the required size, then epoxy resin and the hardener was
mixed in a bowl, after that distracting agent was applied on the mould and then first
layer of the carbon fiber was placed on the mould. Then the binder was applied on the
first layer and similarly according to the required thickness other layers were placed.
The leaf spring thus prepared was dried in the open sunlight for 3 hours and the
process was completed. Specimen of material prepared is shown in Fig.3.0.

Fig.No. 4 Specimen material prepared by carbon reinforcement [5]

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 12


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

6. Various Mechanical Test’s

Following tests were conducted on the respective specimens:-

 TENSILE TEST

Tensile test was used to access mechanical behavior of composite material. Automatic
universal testing machine was used to perform tensile test. The load measuring cell
housed inside the hydraulic ram piston. This technique is used only in UTM for
quality purpose, which ensures the accuracy of the load measuring unit. Main interest
was about to know the ultimate strength of composite material [5].

Under tensile test, the sample is subjected to controlled tension until failure.

The results from the tensile strength of Al7075-B4C are 739MPa and Carbon Epoxy
is 1085 MPa.

 BENDING TEST

The carbon epoxy and Al- B4C composite based leaf spring are tested in the leaf
spring testing machine. Both carbon epoxy and metal matrix based composite leaf
spring are tested according to standard procedure recommended by BIS as shown in
Fig.5.0.

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 13


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

Fig.No. 5 Standard Leaf spring testing machine for Bending [5]

In a test ring, the plunger is moved up to desired height so that the fixture can be
fixed. Leaf spring is mounted with help of fixture, the load is applied gradually and
deflections are recorded. The load has applied at the centre of spring and deflection of
the spring has record with gradually varying load. The spring has load from zero to
prescribed maximum deflection which gives results as shown in Table No.:-

Load(kg) 200 400 600 800 1000


Deflection(mm)in 7 15 23 29 34
Carbon/Epoxy
Deflection(mm) in 5 9 14 20 27
Al/B4C
Table No. 6

 HARDNESS TEST

The hardness test measures the resistance of a composite material specimen to


permanent shape change when a force is applied. Brinell hardness measurement is
used to find out the deformation of the composite material specimen under constant

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 14


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

compressive load. Specimen of Al-B4C based composite material is tested in the


hardness testing machine. Both steel spring and metal matrix based composite leaf
spring are tested according to standard procedure. Hardness test was conducted on
both type of leaf spring [5].

Spring steel has 189 BHN

Composite leaf spring has 239 BHN

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 15


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

7. Recent Trends

1. Major OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) are evaluating the use of


composite leaf spring in their major pickup van and SUV models.
2. High Pressure-Resin Transfer Molding(HP-RTM)( a manufacturing process)
is experiencing highest demand in the market
3. APAC is both the largest and fastest growing segment of Global leaf spring
suspension market .

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 16


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

8. Conclusion

1. The results obtained shows that composite leaf spring is lighter in weight as
compared to conventional steel leaf spring with similar design specification.
2. So, it is concluded that metal matrix based composite leaf spring is an
effective replacement for the existing steel spring used in automobile vehicles.

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 17


Design And Analysis Of Composite Leaf Spring

References

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaf_spring
2. https://www.google.com/search?q=leaf+spring&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X
&ved=0ahUKEwjhraD6jMHhAhUScCsKHTPICj8Q_AUIDigB&biw=1600&bi
h=789#imgrc=2WmAiei3PASMUM:
3. V.B. Bhandari, “Design of machine elements” Mc Graw Hill Education, Third
Edition.
4. Pankaj Saini, Ashish Goel, Dushyant Kumar “DESIGN AND ANALYSIS OF
COMPOSITE LEAF SPRING FOR LIGHT VEHICLES” (IJIRSET) Vol. 2,
Issue 5, May 2013 ISSN: 2319-8753
5. Thippesh L* “Fabrication of hybrid composite Mono-Leaf Spring with
Unidirectional Glass Fibers” (Science Direct) Material Today: Proceedings
5(2018)2980-2984
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epoxy
7. https://www.google.com/search?q=Aradur+HY+951&oq=Aradur+HY+951&aqs
=chrome..69i57j0l5.1854j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
8. Harmeet Singh, Gurinder Singh Brar* “Characterization and Investigation Of
Mechanical Properties of composite Materials used for leaf spring” (Science
Direct) Materials Today: Proceedings 5 (2018)5857-5863

K.K.I.W.E.E.R Department Of Mechanical Engineering, Nashik 18