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by Yatin Anil Jayawant
A thesis submitted to the faculty of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering Charlotte 2009
__________________________ Dr. Howie Fang
__________________________ Dr. Harish Cherukuri
__________________________ Dr. David C. Weggel
© 2009 Yatin Anil Jayawant ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
YATIN ANIL JAYAWANT. Investigation of geometric effects in spot-weld modeling and a new spot-weld model for finite element crash simulations. (Under the direction of DR. HOWIE FANG)
Vehicle crashworthiness is a critical issue to the automotive industry because it is related to the human safety in the events of crashes. Physical crash testing is expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous. In addition, crash testing is limited by the number of scenarios that can be investigated. Recent developments in computer hardware and parallel numerical methods have enabled researchers to use finite element (FE) simulations on crashworthiness research. One of the challenges to FE modeling and simulations of crash is spotweld modeling, because there are typically thousands of spot-welds in a vehicle. Due to the complexity of spot-weld modeling as well as the high computational costs, currently used spot-weld models use simplified geometries and may not give realistic behaviors in crash simulations. In the work of this thesis, the geometric effects of spot-weld models are investigated. Also, a new spot-weld model is proposed with the intention of improving model accuracy and mesh independency. In this thesis, a spot-welded hat section is used for the investigation. The new octagonal spot-weld model is compared with the current nine-node, rigid-link model on deformation patterns, crushing forces, and energy absorption. The comparisons are made on the hat sections with three different mesh sizes and different number of spot-welds.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude towards my advisor, Dr. Howie Fang, for his encouragement, help, and organized approach. Dr. Fang‟s guidance and timely input helped me to meet the deadlines. I also want to thank my committee members, Dr. Cherukuri and Dr. Weggel for reviewing my thesis. I appreciate the suggestions I received from them. I would like to express my gratitude to my parents, Dr. Anil Jayawant and Mrs. Archana Jayawant, who always supported my vision, inspiration until now, in all aspects of my education. and love. I am indebted to University of North Carolina at Charlotte for supporting me financially throughout my master‟s degree. I would like to acknowledge the help in proofreading gave by my friends, Ashwin and Aditi. Special thanks to Aditya, Parthesh and Amol for giving valuable inputs and to Gurunath, Venkat and Chaitanya for encouragement and suggestions from the first day I landed at USA till now. Last, but, not the least, my grateful thanks go out to all the teachers I met, without whom, life would be an altogether different story. I would like to thank them for their infinite faith
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW CHAPTER 3: FINITE ELEMENT MODELLING 3.1 Theoretical Background 3.1.1 Nonlinear Finite Element Analysis 3.1.2 Explicit and Implicit Methods 3.1.3 Contact Analysis and Methods 3.2 Spot-weld Modeling 3.3 A New Spot-weld Model CHAPTER 4: SIMULATION SETUP CHAPTER 5: SIMULATION RESULTS AND ANALYSIS 5.1 Hat Sections with Six Spot-welds 5.2 Hat Sections with Seven Spot-welds 5.3 Hat Sections with Eight Spot-welds 5.4 Meshing Issues CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSIONS REFERENCES
1 4 14 14 15 18 20 24 27 28 35 35 42 50 57 64 66
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
Passenger safety is one of the most important aspects of vehicle designs. Deaths caused by automobile accidents are the 3 rd most reason in the year after cancer and heart diseases . Each year crash injuries result in approximately $145 billion in economic losses or $340 billion in comprehensive costs including the values of the pain and suffering . To prevent and/or reduce crash injuries, vehicles are assessed for safety using crashworthiness tests. A structure is said to be crashworthy if it provides sufficient protection to its occupants during an impact. White et al. defined crashworthiness as the ability of a structure to absorb energy in a controlled manner during a collapse . The energy generated by the impact gets absorbed into the structure and the structure crushes, preventing injuries to the occupants. One of the
measurements of crashworthiness is the total amount of energy that a structure absorbs during an impact. Typically, a vehicle consists of hundreds of components joined by spotwelds. Depending upon how well a finite element (FE) spot-weld model can represent the connection provided by real spot-welds, the structural behavior of spot-welded components predicted by numerical analysis can be significantly different from those of real spot-welds used in a vehicle. Therefore, spot-weld modeling is important while considering safety criteria. A vehicle can be
assessed for crashworthiness by either physical testing or virtual simulation models. A crash simulation provides results without an actual crash test, and thus saves time and money in both design and manufacture. A simulation is the imitative representation of the functioning of one system or process by means of the functioning of another. It is the technique used to represent a real world process with a computer program. One has to restrict the use of approximations and assumptions on simulation models to ensure simulations reflect the real world scenarios. A major advantage of computer simulations is that design parameters can be modified before and after the simulated crashes. Once the FE model is created, it can be used for an infinite number of simulations. Currently, there are spot-weld models available for simulations. The main drawback of these models is that these models depend on the mesh sizes and/or shapes. Secondly, a single point connection or quadrilateral shaped connection does not adequately represent the actual circular weld nugget. Area connections involve complex modeling techniques that increase the simulation time and cost. For components with complex geometries, if their meshes do not match, unrealistic spot-weld models may result. The quality of a spot-weld model largely depends on the mesh generated before developing the FE spot-weld model. It cannot be guaranteed that a particular spot-weld will lie exactly on nodal points. So, the motivation behind
this research is to create mesh independent spot-weld models that can be placed at the exact locations as in real situations.
The objectives of this research are to investigate the geometric effects of existing spot-weld models and to develop a new mesh independent model with zero or a minimal geometric effect. The remaining parts of this thesis are organized as follows. A literature review is presented in Chapter 2, discussing the recent research for spot-weld modeling. A theoretical background of finite element analysis (FEA) is then provided in the third chapter. Chapter 4 gives a detailed description of the FE models used for simulation. In Chapter 5, comparisons are provided for the model designed in this study and the existing model based on crush forces, total absorbed energy, and folding patterns. Issues related to mesh quality are also discussed in this chapter. Finally, Chapter 6 gives several concluding remarks for this study.
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
Spot welding is a process of joining sheet metals by passing high Ampere current through them. Welding is a complex process that involves interactions of thermal, mechanical, electrical, and metallurgical phenomena. The resulting strength, residual stresses, and material properties in a spot-weld may be different from those of the parent sheets. All these factors should be taken into account while modeling a real spot-weld present in a vehicle. An FE model of a spot-weld should represent and should be able to transmit the forces and stresses generated, calculate the energy absorbed, and provide similar results to those of an actual spot-weld. In addition, parameters involved in the FEA such as material properties, geometric nonlinearities, boundary conditions, and loading conditions should be taken into consideration. All modeling of spot-welds a complex study. In FE simulations, a spot-weld is modeled as either a point-to-point connection [4-10] or an area connection [11-16]. In the point-to-point connection, a single beam or spring element is used to model the link connecting two points on the joining sheets. An area connection can have a set of beam elements, a set of spring elements, a single brick element, or a hexa-element as a spot-weld connection. The choice of the modeling technique depends on the analyst, the goal, and the required accuracy. Single point connections are easy to model and these together make FE
require less time for simulation but the accuracy of simulation results may not be guaranteed. Area connections involve complex modeling but generally give better results. To model a spot-weld with a simple connection, Seeger et al. used a single beam and single hexahedron element . A beam element was used for the ease of modeling, but after observing the contact forces and moments in the vicinity of the welds, it was found that the overall stiffness was dependent on the position of the nodes. A single hexahedron element was found inaccurate in most of the cases, the issue being the placement of the weld element; as different contact forces were developed at different locations which disturbed the internal spot-weld forces. A model with shell elements for the joining plates connected by a single spring element was used by Combescure et al. to study the mechanical behavior in the vicinity of a spot-weld . The spot-weld was modeled in two ways, linear elastic and elastic-plastic. The elastic-plastic model was proven to give better results than the linear elastic model. Another type of single-point connections, the CWELD element, was proposed by Fang et al. . It was formulated with a special shear flexible beam element with two nodes. It can join non coincident meshes and accounts for a spot-weld area. The disadvantage of using this element is that if the diameter is larger than the surface patch, it underestimates the stiffness and if weld diameter to element length ratio is greater than one, the prediction of force is not accurate with constraints from Kirchhoff shell theory.
Different types of sections were used to analyze the spot-welded joints. Fyllingen et al. studied a thin-walled hat section, both experimentally and analytically . For numerical analysis, the specimen used in the experiment was mapped by measuring the outer surface of a hat section by a 3D scanner. They created different models and put them in batches differentiated based on material types, and studied the effects of material variations, process histories, geometric imperfections, and thickness variations. The numerical study was done in three parts. The first part illustrated the influence of geometric imperfections on spotweld failures and mapping history (how well is a FE model represents the real specimen). The second part analyzed material variation and spot-weld location. In the third part, simulations were carried out to analyze the effects of geometric and material variations. The mesh size of the FE model was 3 mm for shell elements with a thickness of 1.5 mm. The spot-weld connection was modeled as a massless rigid beam that connected the nodal points of the joining sheets. The end nodes of the hat section were constrained for all the six degrees of freedom. A sliding contact was defined between the impactor and the hat profile. The members collapsed normally by folding and bending of the plate elements. Fyllingen et al. observed a variation in the mean crushing force between models of the same batch, which could be due to variations in geometry. They suggested using a complex model (instead of single rigid connection) to study different crushing patterns with different mean crush forces. Simple connections with massless rigid beams were also studied by Tarigopula et al. using simulations of a thin-walled section . The model was
also validated by experiments but the mean crushing force was under-predicted. Palmonella et al. reviewed a single beam model and observed that it underestimates the stiffness . Deng et al. studied four simplified FE spot-weld models with refined meshes . They used specimen with different lengths but the weld diameter and sheet thickness were all the same. Structural stiffness of a joint was taken as the basis for all of the comparisons. Various loading conditions, namely in-plane and out-of-plane bending and torsions were taken into account. The four models studied were the single bar, single-bar with spokepatterned radial bars on each sheet, multiple-bar connections, and solid-element welds. A large number of elements with a variety of refinements were used for analysis. For more accurate analysis, area connections can be used. A detailed modeling technique is employed in which a spot-weld is represented by elements covering some area. Seeger et al. developed a complex model and compared it to a connection with a single hexahedron element . The spot-weld was modeled with four hexahedron elements to form an area connection. The problem of applying this technique lies in the element size. The small element size decreases the time step too much and to counterbalance this small time step, additional mass has to be used, which was not acceptable for their model with area connection. Instead of multiple point connections, a single area connection can be used. A spot-weld model with three dimensional brick element with eight nodes was studied by Chang et al. . The edges of the welded region were divided into small elements for detailed analyses. Palmonella et al.
also studied a model in which a spot-weld was represented by a single brick element . The plate and brick elements were joined with pin jointed rigid bars to transfer forces and moments. This model gave a good estimation of local stiffness at the spot-weld, but required congruent meshes to use brick elements. Since there are thousands of spot-welds present in a vehicle, a simple model is preferred in order to save modeling time and computational cost. Zhang developed a simplified spot-weld model for complex analysis in which a large number of spot-welds were present in a structure . This model was mainly designed for linear elastic analysis. A nodal-force-based evaluation method was used to predict the stresses in the spot-welds. This spot-weld model consisted of a cylindrical beam element at the center with rigid bar elements connected in a spoke pattern. Shell elements were inserted between the spokes that are formed by the rigid bars. Rigid bar elements transfer three translational and one rotational degree of freedom. The rigid bar elements in the spoke pattern are multi-point constraints (MPC). The MPC forces were converted to line forces (force per unit arc length) and line forces to structural stresses according to plate theory. The MPC forces are less sensitive to FE meshes outside the periphery; therefore, a coarse mesh can be used. For area connections, the umbrella model (in Figure 2.1) proposed by Zhang and Taylor consists of two plates joined by a
Figure 2.1 The umbrella spot-weld model 
single beam . Each sheet has a central node connected to eight circumferential nodes lying on the same sheet in the radial direction. Salvini et al. used FEA to study the structural behavior at the region surrounding a spot-weld . A spot-weld was modeled in two ways, rigid and deformable link connecting two sheets. The deformable link is used to consider varied stiffness to analyze fatigue damage. At both ends of the link, threedimensional beams were oriented in radial directions lying on each sheet. Beams were assigned a particular stiffness (calculated by analytical method) to study the surrounding region‟s behavior. The evaluation of load redistribution at each spot was possible by the use of a deformable link. Single point connections can also be modeled with a connecting element whose diameter equals the diameter of the real spot-weld. Henrysson used a beam element to model the spot-weld with diameter equal to nugget diameter. Coarse meshes were employed to reduce the computational time. The two joining sheets were modeled using four-node shell elements. The length of the beam equaled the sum of half of the thickness of the two sheets. To analyze the effect of spot-welds on the whole structure, the forces and moments transferred between the spot-welds should be considered. Some elements were specially developed to study this effect. The Rigid Body Elements (RBE), RBE2 and RBE3 elements (available in NASTRAN) and hexahedral elements were studied by Heiserer et al. . In the RBE2 element, a single node at the center (considered a master node) of the spot-weld connects multiple nodes (slaves) along the periphery of the welded region. The peripheral nodes
can be constrained or set free depending on which DOF is to be fixed and which DOF is to be set free. The RBE3 element also consists of a central node and nodes on the edge. The difference between an RBE2 and RBE3 element is that in RBE2 element, two nodes can have exact displacement and in RBE3 the displacement is different. Heiserer et al. compared all the three elements types and found that hexahedral elements provided good results and it can be used for subsequent analysis by varying material properties. The diameter of a spot-weld and the number of spot-welds also affect the simulation results. Rusinski et al. studied the effect of weld diameter and pitch on the amount of absorbed energy . Energy absorption was a primary entity for comparisons between different models. The built-in option (a single point connector element) available in ABAQUS was used to model the spot-weld. It was observed that the weld size was a significant factor and that the absorbed energy increased as the diameter was increased and weld spacing was decreased. Spot-weld modeling with ABAQUS is also is studied by Portillo et al. to investigate the crashworthiness performance of spot-welded columns made from advanced high strength steels . Single and double hat columns with high strength steels and two types of dual-phase steels were used in the analysis. A rigid plate was used as the impactor to crush the columns. ABAQUS Explicit was used to perform the postbuckling analysis. Two types of spot-weld models were developed using ABAQUS meshing: independent spot-welds, fastener and element connection, weld. Rigid constraints were used in the mesh independent fastener method so spot-weld failure was not modeled while the weld was allowed to break in
element connection weld. Energy absorbed on impact was used to compare the models. Numerical results for both types of spot-weld models were found in good agreement with experimental data in terms of the collapse profile, deformed column shape, final crush length, and peak impact force. The only limitation of double hat section was that though the double hat section had an 8% larger cross-sectional area, the peak load of the single hat column was slightly lower, which is a desirable feature for crashworthiness. Other than the type of connections, spot-weld shape and size and mesh size are also important parameters that can affect the simulation results. Coarse meshes require less computation time than finer meshes but the results may be less accurate. Donders et al. studied the spot-weld quality and spot-weld designs and their impacts on vehicle‟s safety performance . Experimental tests were carried out to assess the FE modeling approach. They suggested a simple spotweld model for crashworthiness applications since complex modeling of each spot-weld present in a vehicle was not possible. Song et al. studied energy absorption in hat sections filled with metal foams using both FE modeling and experiments . The spot-weld was modeled with eight shell elements. The shell elements were considered rigid, because the authors did not observe any fracture or deformation during the experiments. They observed that the spot-weld was one of the controlling factors that affect the overall model quality. To summarize the current work on spot-weld modeling, it can be observed that spot-weld is modeled in two basic types, a single point connection or an area connection. Sometimes, single point connection can be modified with a set of
beam elements to have an area connection. All the techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages. Figure 2.2 shows the basics of each technique, a single bar model represents a point connection, multiple bars represent a simplified area connection and solid elements represent a complex area connection .
Figure 2.2 Three spot-weld modeling techniques (a) Single bar model (b) Multiple bar model (c) Solid nugget 
representation of the circular-shaped spot-welds. Accurate results may not be obtained even though single point connections require less modeling time. Area connections such as brick elements increase the computation cost if they are present in large numbers. For area connections, other than the simple modeling technique, congruent mesh on the joining sheets is one of the requirements. But for structures with complex geometries, mesh cannot be guaranteed to be congruent and the mesh sizes and shapes on the joining sheets may not always be the same. Therefore, to combine the advantages of all these techniques, a new type of model is developed.
The new spot-weld model consists of 12 nodes on both the joining sheets connected by rigid links. The nodes are connected in an octagonal shape. One of the 12 nodes on the upper sheet is kept as master and joined to all other. This spot-weld model can be placed at the exact location to achieve mesh insensitivity. The region around the weld nugget is then remeshed. The details of this model are described in the later chapters.
CHAPTER 3: FINITE ELEMENT MODELING
Although performing actual crash tests may address some of the design issues related to crashworthiness, they are costly, time consuming, and limited by the number of trials. To this end, numerical analysis, predominantly using the finite element method (FEM), has become a viable means for crashworthiness study.
3.1 Theoretical background The FEM is a numerical procedure for obtaining approximate solutions to many of the problems encountered in engineering analysis. In the FEM, a complex region defining a continuum is discretized into simple geometric shapes called elements. The properties and the governing relationships are assumed over these elements and expressed mathematically in terms of unknown values at specific points in the elements called nodes. The continuity and equilibrium conditions are satisfied between neighboring elements at all times. By satisfying boundary conditions, a solution in the terms of nodal displacements and element stresses and strains is obtained for the entire system. One important thing that affects the accuracy of FE solutions is the mesh quality. In general, a model with fine and regular meshes gives more accurate results than a model with coarse
and irregular meshes. However, using fine meshes increases the complexity and time of the modeling effort and incurs significant computational cost. In linear FEA, the response of the structure is reversible, i.e. original shape and size can be obtained after removing the load. But this is not the case for crashworthiness problems. Typical features of crashworthiness problems such as nonlinear behavior of materials, large displacements, changes in boundary conditions caused by the contacts between different parts during crashes, require the use of nonlinear FE code.
3.1.1 Nonlinear Finite Element Analysis Nonlinearities in FEA can be classified into two types, material and geometric nonlinearities. Material nonlinearities occur when the stress-strain relationship is not linear and geometric nonlinearities arise due to large deformations or displacements. Figure 3.1 shows a bilinear elasto-plastic material model in reverse loading condition with hardening behaviors. Hardening may be defined as the increase in yield stress due to plastic deformation. Depending on how the yield surface will evolve in a space, hardening is categorized by isotropic hardening, kinematic hardening (shown in Figure 3.1 by I and K respectively) or mixed hardening. In isotropic hardening, the yield strength changes due to plastic deformation but the yield strengths in tension and compression are always equal. As illustrated in Figure 3.1, where lengths BC and B‟C are equal, reversed compressive yield stress σB‟ is equal to tensile yield stress σB before load
reversal. In the kinematic hardening model, the center of the yield surface moves in the direction of plastic flow. As shown in Figure 3.1, the yield stress in tension σB is greater than that in compression σA‟.
σ σmax σy
2σmax ε 2 σy
A‟ K I B‟
Figure 3.1 Elastic-plastic behavior 
Figure 3.2a shows the yield surface for isotropic hardening in which the yield surface expands uniformly without changing the shape and position. In the case of kinematic hardening, the yield surface translates in the direction of outward normal without changing the shape and size (Figure 3.2b). For both isotropic and kinematic hardenings, the orientations of the yield surfaces remain unchanged. The hardening models can be written as 
f ( ij ij ) h( h) 0
where σij are components of the symmetric stress tensor,
(3.1) βij denotes the
translation of initial yield surface, λk is a scalar function of plastic strain, and h(λk) is a function quantifying the expansion of yield surface. In isotropic hardening, βij is zero and in kinematic hardening, h(λk) is a constant.
(a) Expansion of yield surface
(b) Translation of yield surface
Figure 3.2 Strain hardening  (a) Isotropic hardening; and (b) Kinematic hardening
Kinematic hardening is related to the Bauschinger Effect, an observation on the metal yield strength that decreases upon changing the direction of the strain. For example, an increase in tensile yield strength will result in a decrease in compressive yield strength, as illustrated in Fig. 3.2b. In crashworthiness problems cyclic loading is involved which diminishes the yield stress (Bauschinger Effect). The kinematic hardening accounts for this effect by assuming that the yield surface keeps the same form but is translated when plastic deformation occurs. Hence kinematic hardening model is adopted in this study.
Area of contact
Nonlinear contact behavior
Figure 3.3 Nonlinear contact problem
Figure 3.3 shows the nonlinear contact behavior, a case of impact of rigid wall with upper-hat section. Till point A, area of contact is directly proportional to the displacement and varies linearly. But after that, area varies nonlinearly. The reason behind this is that initially only the cross section of upper-hat is in contact with the wall but after some time, due to number of folds, area increases nonlinearly. The gap between mating parts changes as the contact force changes and this can happen for materials with linear behavior and small displacements. This is nonlinear contact behavior. Geometric nonlinearity is the change in the load-displacement
characteristics of the structure caused by the change in the structural shape due to large deformations or displacements. Since the area of contact is the function of displacement or deformation, contact can also be classified as a type of geometric nonlinearity.
3.1.2 Explicit and Implicit Methods Nonlinear FE problems can be solved in two ways, explicitly or implicitly. In the explicit methods, the new value is defined in terms of values that are already known. In the implicit methods, new unknown value is also taken into account and solution involves number of iterations to arrive at the final result. For example, if we consider equation
y 2x 3
It can be written as
y f ( x)
f ( x) 2 x 3
This is the explicit form as „y’ can be found by putting values for „x’.
2x y 3
Equation 3.5 describes the same function in the implicit form. This can be treated as implicit definition of „y‟ as a function of „x’ and vice versa. This can be explained by simple problem of wave propagation through a pipe. If pressure is applied at one end of pipe, the pressure wave will move down the pipe and be reflected from closed end. It will travel back and forth and settles down to the constant value applied at the open end. If requirement is such that steady conditions should be reached as soon as possible, damping is provided. This is implicit solution scheme to have steady conditions be reached as quickly as possible. If pressure waves are to be investigated, negligible or no damping should be used so that the wave reflections can be accurately followed. This situation can be treated with explicit solution method. The time-step size of explicit method limits the advance of pressure steps to a unit cell per time. But this affects accuracy as a pressure wave that propagates further than one cell in one time step will move to the region that has no defined influence on the pressure. This may lead to numerical instability. In implicit methods, all cells are coupled together to allow pressure signals to be transmitted through a grid. But for this damping of pressure waves, coupled equations need to be solved. Thus more time is required to solve equations by implicit method but it is more stable
for solving stiff problems, i.e. larger step size can be used. Hence the choice of whether to use implicit or explicit methods depends on accuracy and time.
3.1.3 Contact Analysis and Methods Contact analysis is required when two bodies that are initially separate apart come into contact. Contact can be defined between two bodies or for a single surface of a deformable body. Figure 3.4 shows an impact simulation of a hat-section in which the tube is fixed at one end and crushed by the rigid wall on the other end. In this simulation, contact occurs between the tube and the wall (deformable-to-rigid contact), between the hat and flat plate of the tube (deformable-to-deformable contact), for the hat piece (single-surface contact), and for the flat piece (single-surface contact).
Figure 3.4 Nonlinear contact behavior (a) A hat section before impact; and (b) A hat section during impact
In contact analysis, the interacting surfaces on the two contact bodies are termed as a master and a slave surface, respectively. Upon contact, nodes from
the slave surface are constrained to slide along the master surface. In case of penalty based contact, when a penetration is found, a force proportional to penetration depth is applied to resist and ultimately eliminate the penetration. Initially for interaction, each node of the slave surface is associated with the closest point on master surface (Figure 3.5a). This is determined by plotting a normal between a slave node and a master surface .
Gap A Closest point to A Slave surface B C
(b) Figure 3.5 Contact analysis (a) Before contact (b) After contact 
One of the methods for detecting contacts is the standard penalty method. In this method, penetrations of slave nodes into the master surface are checked and if a penetration is found, (Figure 3.5b) a force proportional to the penetration depth is applied to resist and eliminate the penetration. The interface stiffness used in a contact algorithm is based on the stiffness values of the slave and master surfaces, whichever is smaller. To calculate the contact stiffness, it is
assumed that there is a linear spring between a slave node and a master segment. The spring stiffness determines the force that will be applied to the slave node and the master segment. The spring stiffness is calculated by 
Fs A K min diagonal
where A is the area of the contact segment, K is the bulk modulus of the element in contact and F is a scale factor that is defined as follows.
Fs Sd Ss
where Sd is a penalty scale factor and Ss is a scale factor on the slave/master contact stiffness
Interior shell edge Slave surfac
Exterior shell edge Projection vectors Master surface
Figure 3.6 Definition of contact thickness 
For contact of shells considering element thickness, the contact surface is set with an offset from the mid-plane (Figure 3.6). The contact surface is determined by normally projecting from the shell‟s mid-plane with a distance equal to half of element thickness. At an exterior shell edge, the contact surface forms a circular wrap around the edge with radius equal to half of the element thickness . Figure 3.7 shows the contact forces on the slave and master bodies. Coulomb‟s formulation is used for frictional consideration. It is assumed that an elastic spring is present between slave and master surface. As the contact point moves along the master surface, a frictional force in a tangential direction to the rigid surface resists the tangential relative movement.
Figure 3.7 Contact forces 
Initially, the frictional force is calculated by using the coefficient of friction µ and the normal force Fn
3.2 Spot-Weld Modeling Current spot-weld models are either simplified models used for analyzing the overall behavior of the whole structure or detailed models used for studying the stress/strain distributions and/or failures within or around a spot-weld. These models can be either single-point or area connections between the two sheets of materials. In the study by Xiang et al. , the behavior of several spot-weld models including both single-point and area connections is described. The mean crushing force was used as one of the criteria for comparison. Figure 3.7 shows six area-connected spot-weld models that are described as follows. (a) Common element model - Two sheets are joined by common elements. The same mesh size for both sheets around the spot-weld is necessary to use this model.
Figure 3.7 Various spot-weld models (a) Common element model (b) Beam model (c) Spring model (d) Volume element model (e) 9 rigid bar model (e) Shell element model 
(b) Beam model - Beams are used to transmit forces and moments from one shell to another in the beam model. Material properties are assigned to beam elements to calculate the forces based on the stress-strain relationship. (c) Spring model - Elastic-plastic springs were used to connect shell elements. Properties of the springs are determined from actual spot-weld properties. (d) Volume element model - Solid elements are used to connect shell elements. The yield stress of spot-weld is calculated by
where Hvw and σsw are the Vickers hardness and yield stress of the spot-weld, and Hvu and σsu are the Vickers hardness and yield stress of the flange. (e) Nine bar rigid model - The nodes on joining flanges are connected by rigid bars and translational and rotational degree of freedoms of nodes are coupled. (f) Shell element model - A shell element is embedded between the two sheets with corresponding nodes rigidly connected. Xiang et al. observed that the dimensions of spot-weld are important to have accurate mean crush forces. Based on mean crush forces, numerical results were compared with experimental data and Xiang found that mean crush force values of a single beam and spring model were not comparable. The volume and common element models gave satisfying results but more computational modeling efforts were required. The nine rigid bar model required
less modeling efforts and analytical and experimental results were comparable. Hence, it was selected for use in an optimization study. Current spot-weld modeling techniques have some limitations. For complex geometries, the meshes cannot be guaranteed to be congruent and their sizes and shapes may not always be the same. Secondly, either singlepoint or quadrilateral shapes do not represent well the circular spot-welds in practice. Furthermore, volume-element connections using brick elements increase the computational cost, if they are present in large numbers. In crash analysis, hundreds of spot-welds are present in the structures being analyzed, so a simple, accurate model is recommended. Simplified models such as single point connections require less computation but reliable results may not be guaranteed. Also, the diameter of single point connections is much less than that of the real spot-welds which is about 5 to 6 mm. This can seriously affect the accuracy of numerical analysis. Though area connections such as those using brick elements have approximately equal diameter as that of the real spot-weld, they are computationally expensive and generally challenging to generate the spot-weld models. To this end, they are used mostly for fatigue analysis in which a single spot-weld is studied instead of studying the overall effects of spot-welds on a large system. Thus, to combine the advantages of current modeling techniques, a new spot-weld model is developed in this study.
3.3 A New Spot-weld Model Multiple point connections covering an area is a better option compared to the single-point or complex area connections, though all of these models are dependent on meshes generated before creating the spot-weld models. For crash analysis, the minimum mesh size with which a vehicle can be modeled is around 10 to 15 mm; however, the size of a spot-weld is only 5 to 6 mm in diameter. So spot-welds cannot be placed at the exact locations as required. A new FE spot-weld model is developed in this study. It has an octagonal shape that resembles the circular shape of the real spot-weld and has rigid links among nodes within the spot-weld model. This spot-weld model will be placed at the exact location and remeshing is performed on existing meshes around the spotweld. Therefore, this model is mesh-independent and can be embedded in meshes of any size. Figure 3.9 shows the schematic representation of the octagonal mesh of new spot-weld model. Each octagonal mesh is embedded in to the sheets and the two octagonal meshes are joined using rigid links among all of the modes. In the next chapter, this new spot-weld model will be evaluated by comparing simulation results with those using the nine rigid-bar model.
Figure 3.9 A new spot-weld model in octagonal shape
CHAPTER 4: SIMULATION SETUP
In this study, a 200 mm long hat-section is used to evaluate the new spotweld model. The hat-section consists of a flat plate and a hat column. They are joined by spot-welds. Figure 4.1 shows the overall dimensions (in millimeter) of the model. Eight equally spaced spot-welds are placed on each bottom flange of the hat section. The hat section is crushed at one end by the rigid wall moving in the longitudinal direction of the tube.
Figure 4.1 Overall dimensions of a spot-welded hat section.
The nodes on the other end of the hat section are fixed for all six degrees of freedom. The rigid wall moves at a constant velocity that is defined by a linear time-displacement curve. The rigid wall is to travel 100 mm in 10 ms. The FE models are developed with the aid of Hypermesh , a general-purpose FE preprocessor. All of the simulations were carried out using LS-DYNA explicit FE code . Table 4.1 gives a summary of models to be used for the analysis. A total of eighteen models are created, nine with the new octagonal spot-weld model and nine with the nine-node rigid-bar model. For each type of spot-weld models, the number of spot-welds varies from six to eight and the mesh size ranges from 2 to 4 mm.
Table 4.1 Matrix of simulation models New Octagonal and Nine-Node Model Mesh Size (mm) Number of Spot-welds 6 2 7 8 6 3 7 8 6 4 7 8
Table 4.2 summarizes the material properties used in the simulation models. The wall is defined by a rigid material while the tube is defined as an elasto-plastic material with kinematic hardening.
Table 4.2 Material properties
Part Upperhat and flat plate Wall Materials Models Elastic plastic with kinematic hardening Rigid Mass Density * E-6 (kg/mm3) 27.8 57.8 Young's Modulus (kN/mm2) 200 200 Poison's Ratio Yield Stress (kN/mm2) 0.2 Tangent Modulus (kN/mm2) 0.63
The spot-welds are the rigid links joining two sheets. Figure 4.2 (a) shows the different spot-weld models generated on 2, 3 and 4 mm meshes. Figure 4.2 (b) shows the constraints (end nodes fixed in all six degrees of freedom marked with thick black lines) and direction of velocity.
(b) Figure 4.2 FE spot-weld model (a) Meshes on 2, 3 and 4 mm models (b) 3- dimensional view showing direction of velocity and constrained nodes
The shell elements are formulated with Belytschko-Tsay formulation with 1.5 mm nodal thickness. For five through-thickness integration points, the Belytschko-Tsay formulation requires only 725 mathematical operations
compared to 4,050 operations required by the Hughes-Liu formulation; hence it consumes less CPU time. Initial mesh of quadrilateral elements and mesh sizes
of 2, 3 and 4 mm for the top-hat and flat plate are generated by automeshing technique in Hypermesh. For the new octagonal spot-weld model, a computer program is written in C programming language for generating spot-weld models at given locations. By giving input as the number of spot-welds on each side, the distance between two spot-welds (pitch) and the length of the sheet, the octagonal shaped spot-weld models with their exact locations are obtained. The output of the program then can be embedded in the LS-DYNA input file. Compared to single point connections or quadrilateral shaped brick elements, the octagonal shaped model is closer to the actual circular shape of the real spot-weld nuggets. For the octagonal spot-weld model, remeshing is required on the meshes of the two sheets around the spot-welds. The nine-node model is created by taking spot-weld locations corresponding to new octagonal model as the basis.
Rigid links Actual spotweld center
Nearest node taken as center
Figure 4.3 Aligning of centers for nine-node model
The centers of nine-node model are chosen as the closest node of the respective centers of octagonal model. The nine-node spot-weld model is shown in Figure 4.3.
(b) Figure 4.4 Spot-weld models (a) nine-node model (b) New octagonal model
Figure 4.4 shows how the nodes of spot-welds of both the octagonal and nine-node models are joined together by rigid links. For the nine-node model
(Figure 4.4a), the central node is selected and joined to eight nodes on the upper sheet and nine nodes on bottom sheet. For the octagonal model (Figure 4.4b) a node lying on upper sheet, closest to CG of spot-weld is selected and rigidly joined to 11 upper nodes and 12 lower nodes. For octagonal model, nodes form an octagon are compared to square shape of nine-node model. Problems in automeshing technique are illustrated in Figure 4.5. The model with 4 mm mesh is taken for analysis. Since the exact locations of spotwelds are known, they are embedded such that the center of every spot-weld will coincide with the exact center of the real spot-weld. In this particular case, if the mesh around the spot-weld is removed, the spot-weld may not lie at the center of remeshing zone. For the first and third remeshing zone, the spot-weld lies on the right side while it lies on the left side for second remeshing zone. So, symmetric mesh at alternate locations may be possible. But for another model this cannot be guaranteed and the remeshing results may be different.
Figure 4.5 Remeshing zone (nodes connected in octagonal shape)
For the 2 mm mesh, more elements are present in the remeshing zone compared to the 4 mm mesh. This may also affect the simulation results. The detailed discussion of the effects of mesh sizes and the number of spot-welds is presented in the next chapter.
CHAPTER 5: SIMULATION RESULTS AND ANALYSIS
In this chapter, the octagonal and nine-node spot-weld models are compared in tube crushing simulations on tube‟s folding patterns, crushing forces, and absorbed energies. A detailed analysis is also provided at the end of this chapter discussing the issues in meshing and the discrepancies in folding patterns and crushing forces.
5.1 Hat Sections with Six Spot-welds The time histories of crushing forces for hat sections with six spot-welds are obtained for both the octagonal and nine-node spot-weld models. For each type of the spot-weld models, 2, 3, and 4 mm meshes are used for the hat sections. In the case of 2 mm mesh, different folding patterns were observed between the octagonal and nine-node models. In the octagonal model, folding initiated and developed at the impacting end; while in the nine-node model, folding initiated at one-third of tube length from the fixed end and subsequent folds developed between the impacting end and the initiating location. Figure 5.1 shows the comparison of folding patterns of the octagonal and nine-node models at 2, 6, and 10 ms.
t=10 ms Figure 5.1 Folding patterns of the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
Figure 5.2 shows the time history of crushing forces for both models. It can be seen that the crushing force reached maximum at the beginning and decreased significantly at 2 ms. Due to self impact of folds and development of a
new fold, the crushing forces started to go up at 4 ms and started to drop at 6 ms. It was also observed that the two models have similar trend on crushingforce history.
Figure 5.2 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh
Figure 5.3 shows the time histories of energy absorptions of both models.
Figure 5.3 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh
The curves follow each other and are alternately above and below each other which shows that the energy absorbed by both the models and the manner in which it gets absorbed is similar, with more energy being absorbed by the octagonal model.
t=10 ms Figure 5.4 Folding patterns of the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
For models with six spot-welds and 3 mm mesh (Figure 5.4), the folding started at the crushing end for octagonal model and one-third of tube length from the fixed end for nine-node model. This is similar to the case of the models with 2 mm mesh. Subsequent folding patterns of the 3 mm models are similar to those of the 2 mm models up to 10 ms. The crushing forces in Figure 5.5 for the nine-node model are slightly higher than that for the octagonal model.
Figure 5.5 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh
Figure 5.6 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh
The reason is that when the mesh size is changed from 2 to 3 mm, the locations of some spot-welds in the nine-node model are changed since they have to occupy a square mesh of 2 × 2 elements. The increased crush forces in the nine-node model resulted in an increase in the energy absorption as shown in Figure 5.6.
t=10 ms Figure 5.7 Folding patterns of the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
Figure 5.7 shows the folding patterns of hat sections with 4 mm mesh and 6 spot-welds for the octagonal and nine-node spot-weld models. In both the cases, folding started from the crushing end with a small bulge formed at the one-third of the tube length from the fixed end. At every time step, both models deform similarly, but their folding patterns are rough compared to those on the 2 mm and 3 mm models. Although the folding patterns are similar, the crushing forces and energy absorptions differ between the octagonal and nine-node model (Figure 5.8).
Figure 5.8 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh
This is due to the locations and sizes of the two spot-weld models. For the 4 mm mesh, the mesh size of the octagonal spot-weld model remains 6 mm, but the nine-node model has to take a square of 8 8 mm, which is formed by 2 2 elements. The increased size on spot-welds increased the rigidity of the hat section. Hence, the crushing forces required for deformation are increased.
Figure 5.9 shows the time history of energy absorption for both models. There is more energy absorption by the nine-node model than the octagonal one due to the increased crushing forces in the former.
Figure 5.9 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 6 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh
5.2 Hat Sections with Seven Spot-welds In this section, we examine the octagonal and nine-node models using a hat section of seven spot-welds. Figure 5.10 shows the folding patterns of the two models with 2 mm mesh. Figure 5.10 shows the folding patterns for both models at three time instances. Initially folds started to develop at the fixed ends; this is different from the case of six spot-welds because of the changes on spot-weld locations. At the end of the simulations, similar folding patterns were developed with most folds at the rear fixed ends and small deformations at front, impacting ends.
t=10 ms Figure 5.10 Folding patterns of the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
Figure 5.11 shows the crushing force history and Figure 5.12 shows the energy absorption of the two models. With small mesh size of the hat section, the
spot-welds in both models are nearly identical in size, which accounts for the similarity in crushing force histories.
Figure 5.11 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh
Figure 5.12 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh
In addition, the increased number of spot-welds in the models further reduced the differences between the two models. This can also be seen from the histories of absorbed energy shown in Figure 5.12. For models with 7 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh (Figure 5.13), the folding started from the crushing end for both models. The folding patterns are similar
before 6 ms and different afterwards. Although folds were at the crushing end for both models, folds for the octagonal model are not as smooth as those for the nine-node model. The reason was due to the reduced spacing between spot welds and the increased stiffness in the remeshing zone of the octagonal model.
t=10 ms Figure 5.13 Folding patterns of the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
Figure 5.14 shows the crushing force curves for both models. The crushing forces are almost identical for the first 3 ms and differ slightly
afterwards. The energy absorption of the two models is almost the same during the entire crushing period (Figure 5.15).
Figure 5.14 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh
Figure 5.15 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh
Figure 5.16 shows the folding patterns for the hat-section with 7 spotwelds and 4 mm mesh. The deformation started in a different manner. Actually, first spot-weld of nine-node model is located at 8 mm from the impacting end and 7.5 mm for octagonal model. Hence, for octagonal model, folding started from
area near the second spot weld from impacting end but for nine-node model, it started from impacting end. Thereafter, the folding patterns are almost identical till the end of the simulation.
t=10 ms Figure 5.16 Folding patterns of the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
For this 4 mm mesh section, the crushing force histories are very different between the two models as shown in Figure 5.17. The nine-node model has larger crushing forces than the octagonal model.
Figure 5.17 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh
The increase on crushing forces was due to the increased size of the spotwelds in the nine-node model. In this case, the nine-node model was created with 2 2 elements that resulted in an 8 8 mm spot-weld. The increased spotweld size increased the rigidity of the hat section. In addition, since the nine-node spot-weld models used mesh on the hat section, their locations do not exactly match the real spot-weld locations. This can be seen from the crushing forces in Figure 5.17 whose second pick occurred at 4 ms, which is at 5 ms in the hatsection with 2 mm mesh (as compared that in Figure 5.11). Due to frequent self impact of lobes, fluctuations in nine-node model curve can be observed. Spotweld spacing also affects the simulation. For octagonal model, distance between each spot-weld is maintained at 30.8 mm but for nine-node model, since exact
location is not available, the distance varies from 28 to 32 mm. Second and third spot-welds from impacting end are spaced at 28 mm from each other, so at 4 ms, crush force reaches at peak, and then 32 mm distance is maintained between next four spot-welds so somewhat lower crush force is required for deformation. Again, sixth and seventh spot-welds are spaced at 28 mm from each other, so fluctuations can be seen around 8 ms. At the end, since there is just 8 mm distance between last spot-weld and fixed end, crushing force reaches another peak. Figure 5.18 shows the histories of energy absorptions of the two models. Both the models deformed in the same manner during 1 to 3 ms and 6 to 10 ms interval hence energy curves almost coincide with each other. During 3 to 6 ms interval, the deformation is through the second spot-weld from impacting end in nine-node model which tries to resist it hence a small upward trend can be seen. The deformation is between first and second, and second and third spot-weld in octagonal model, hence not much resistance is provided and less energy gets absorbed.
Figure 5.18 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 7 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh
5.3 Hat Sections with Eight Spot-welds For hat sections with 8 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh, the folding patterns of octagonal and nine-node spot-weld models are shown in Figure 5.19.
t=10 ms Figure 5.19 Folding patterns of the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
The folding in both models started at the fixed ends and continued to develop in a similar way. Compared to the case with seven spot-welds, there are fewer folds in the eight spot-weld models. The increased number of spot-welds
has increased the difficulty to fold between two spot-welds. Also, due to more number of spot-welds and finer mesh, the folding patterns, crush force and energy absorption histories of both the octagonal and nine-node model are almost similar. The crushing force histories of the two models are similar as shown in Figure 5.20. For the nine-node model, there are slight fluctuations around 1 ms; however, these are less severe than those found in the case of seven spotwelds. The peaks in crush forces around 5 mm correspond to the deformation of the lobes and formation of the second folds.
Figure 5.20 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh
Figure 5.21 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 2 mm mesh
Figure 5.21 shows the histories of energy absorptions for both models. There is no significant difference between the two models within the first 6 ms. After that, the octagonal model started to absorb more energy than the nine-node model. Figure 5.22 shows the comparison between the octagonal and nine-node model with 8 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh.
t=10 ms Figure 5.22 Folding patterns of the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
For the octagonal model, the folding started from the fixed end and the folds continued to develop in the same direction. In the nine-node model, folding started from the impacting end along with a bulge formed at one-third of the tube length from the fixed end. Folds were then developed at both locations. The difference in folding patterns is due to the different locations of the spot-welds in the nine-node model to accommodate the existing mesh. Compared to the models with 2 mm mesh, it can be seen that the octagonal model with 3 mm mesh gives more consistent behavior than the nine-node model. For the two models with 3 mm mesh, the time histories of crushing forces are shown in Figure 5.23. Both curves follow a similar trend during the entire history but with slight difference in the locations of peak loads.
Figure 5.23 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh
The total energy absorption of the two models is shown in Figure 5.24. Similar trend was observed for the first 6 ms and then there is a slight difference between the two models. The nine-node model was slightly stiffer and thus
absorbed less energy than the octagonal model. This increased stiffness in the nine-node model was due to the occurrence of the folds at one-third tube length that turned the initial long crushing tube into two shorter sections.
Figure 5.24 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh
Figure 5.25 shows development of folding in the two hat section models with 8 spot-welds and 4 mm meshes. For the octagonal model, folding started from the impacting end, and continued to develop till the end of crushing. For the nine-node model, folding started in the middle and successive folding was developed in both directions from midway. The center of first spot-weld in nine-node model is closer to the impacting end than that in the octagonal model; this made it difficult to fold at this end. Consequently, the initial folding started at the mid section. Because of this difference in spot-weld locations, it required less force to initiate folding for the nine-node model than for the octagonal models.
t=10 ms Figure 5.25 Folding patterns of the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh (left: octagonal model, right: nine-node model)
This can be seen from the crushing force histories shown in Figure 5.26. The fluctuations of crushing forces around 2 ms for the nine-node model are due to self-impact of lobes. After the initial peak loads, the crushing forces for both models do not significantly differ from each other in magnitude, but differ in the locations of peak loads.
Figure 5.26 Crushing force histories of the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh
The energy absorption histories of both models are similar, as shown in Figure 5.27.
Figure 5.27 Histories of absorbed energy for the hat section with 8 spot-welds and 4 mm mesh
Comparing the results in Figure 5.9 for 6 spot-welds and in Figure 5.18 for 7 spot-welds, all with 4 mm meshes, it can be seen that the differences between the two models becomes less significant when more spot-welds are used for the
hat section. Despite this, it is observed that the mesh sizes do affect the simulation results of both models.
5.4 Meshing Issues This section addresses the issues involved while modeling spot-weld with the new technique. Table 5.1 shows the locations of the spot-welds in each of the hat-section models discussed in Section 5.3. The spot-weld locations in Table 5.1 are measured from their centers to the impacting end, and the exact locations are given by those of the octagonal models.
Table 5.1 Comparison of spot-weld locations
Spotwelds OCT 6 9N OCT 7 9N OCT 8 9N
Mesh size (mm) 2 3 4 (mm) 2 3 4 (mm) 2 3 4
2 3 4 5 6 Locations of centers of spot-weld models 7.5 44.5 81.5 118.5 155.5 192.5 8 44 82 118 156 192 8.95 44.77 80.59 119.4 155.2 194 8 44 80 120 156 192 7.5 37.5 67.5 97.5 127.5 157.5 8 38 70 100 130 162 5.97 38.8 68.65 98.5 131.3 161.2 8 40 68 100 132 164 8 34 60 86 112 138 8 34 60 86 112 138 5.97 32.83 59.7 86.56 113.4 140.3 8 36 60 88 112 140
187.5 192 194 192 164 166 167.2 168
190 192 194 192
For each hat-section, the locations of spot-welds in the octagonal and nine-node models with 2 mm meshes almost coincide with each other due to the small meshes. For the models with 3 and 4 mm meshes, the differences in spot-
weld locations become larger. It was observed from the simulation results that folds were developed between two spot-welds. Therefore, folding patterns are affected by the distances between neighboring spot-welds that are in turn affected by the locations of the spot-welds. For the hat section with 8 spot-welds, and 3 mm mesh, the center of the first spot-weld in the nine-node model is closer to the impacting wall compared to the octagonal model. Hence folding started from one-third tube length from the fixed end in the nine-node model but started at the impacting end in the octagonal model. In the case of hat sections with 7 spot-welds and 3 mm mesh, the distance between the first two spot-welds is 30 mm for the octagonal model and 32.83 mm for the nine-node model. Hence, more folds were formed between these two spot-welds in the nine-node model than octagonal model. In the hat sections of 8 spot-welds and 7 spot-welds with 2 mm meshes, the spot-weld locations in both the octagonal and nine-node models closely matched each other and thus resulted in similar folding patterns. These findings are consistent with those of Fyllingen et al.  who reported that variations in mean crushing force were due to geometric imperfections. The mean crushing forces and total energy absorptions for all of the models are summarized in Table 5.2. The mean crushing forces for both models are almost identical for 2 mm mesh. When the mesh sizes are increased, the mean crushing forces decrease for the octagonal models and slightly increase for the nine-node model.
59 Table 5.2 Summary of the results 6 spot-welds Mesh size (mm) 2 Crush Force (kN) Energy (*10 kN-mm)
7 spot-welds Mesh size (mm) 2 3 23 4
8 spot-welds Mesh size (mm) 2 3 4 25
OCT 9N OCT 9N
19.2 18.4 22.4
23.5 25.1 24.4
21.4 21.4 22.2 22.3 23.4 25.3 24.9 25.3 25.8 1.3 1.24 1.34 1.33 1.41 1.49 1.43 1.39 1.48 1.4 1.46 1.4 1.46 1.45
1.24 1.24 1.45 1.32
For the hat section with 6 spot-welds, a comparison of the mean crushing forces is shown in Figure 5.28 between the octagonal and nine-node models with different mesh sizes.
Figure 5.28 Comparison of mean crushing force for Octagonal and nine-node model with 6 spot-welds
The octagonal model appears to be less effective in this case than the nine-node model for large mesh sizes. The reason is that when the mesh size increases, the element sizes in the re-meshing zone are also increased based on
the current remeshing method in this study (by automesh in Hypermesh). This problem can be resolved with a new mesher that can provide a smoother transition from the surrounding large mesh to the small spot-weld meshes. Figure 5.29 shows the comparison between the octagonal and nine-node models for the hat section of seven spot-welds. In this case, the two models give similar results with 2 mm meshes. However, the octagonal models are less sensitive than the nine-node models with respect to changes on mesh sizes. Compared to the case with six spot-welds, the octagonal model becomes less sensitive for more spotwelds in a section with a given length.
Figure 5.29 Comparison of mean crushing force for Octagonal and nine-node model with 7 spot-welds
Figure 5.30 shows the comparison between the octagonal and nine-node model with eight spot-welds. Both models become less sensitive to changes on mesh sizes, with the octagonal models being more consistent than the nine-node model.
Figure 5.30 Comparison of mean crushing force for Octagonal and nine-node model with 8 spot-welds
The octagonal and nine-node models are also compared on total energy absorptions for the hat sections with six, seven, and eight spot-welds as shown in Figures 5.31, 5.32, and 5.33, respectively. Both the octagonal and nine-node models become less sensitive to changes on mesh sizes when the number of spot-welds is increased
Figure 5.31 Comparison of energy absorption for Octagonal and nine-node model with 6 spot-welds
Figure 5.32 Comparison of energy absorption for Octagonal and nine-node model with 7 spot-welds
Figure 5.33 Comparison of energy absorption for Octagonal and nine-node model with 8 spot-welds
Although the octagonal models are more consistent than the nine-node models in the case of hat sections with eight spot-welds, relatively large inconsistency was still found in the models for hat sections of six and seven spotwelds. This is related to both the folding patterns and re-meshing around the spot-welds. Figure 5.34 shows the remeshing zones for the hat section with 7 spotwelds and all mesh sizes. In the remeshing process, 1 mm element size was
initially used. Since the sizes of the elements outside the remeshing zone are larger than 1 mm, they affect the meshing around the spot-weld. The remeshing can be done with more elements for the 2 mm mesh compared to the 4 mm mesh. Additionally, the center of a spot-weld does not coincide with the center of the remeshing zone; hence symmetry cannot be maintained.
(b) Figure 5.34 Remeshing zones for 7spot-welds with (a) 2 mm (b) 3 mm and (c) 4 mm mesh
All of the above mentioned issues affect the simulation results of the new, octagonal spot-weld model. A more sophisticated remesher should be adopted to help improve the consistency of the new spot-weld model for use in meshes of different sizes.
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSIONS
FE modeling of spot-welds is one of the most important issues in crashworthiness analysis. This study provides a new FE spot-weld model for use in crash simulations. The new spot-weld model represents the real spotwelds in vehicles more closely than existing models. The difficulty in generating spot-weld models for FE analysis lies in the geometric difference between spot-welds and the residing structure. Current spot-weld models are created on existing meshes in an FE model. Therefore, the geometric shape, size, and location of a spot-weld will depend on the existing mesh. Consequently, the quality of the spot-weld model cannot be guaranteed and its behavior in crash analysis will be affected. The new spot-weld model is introduced to eliminate the dependency of spot-welds on existing meshes while maintaining realistic shapes, sizes, and locations. A computer program is developed in this study to ease the effort in generating the spot-weld models. This study focuses on investigating the geometric effect of spot-weld models and evaluating the performance of the new spot-weld model without remeshing the entire existing mesh. Using hat sections of different mesh sizes and a different numbers of spot-welds, the new octagonal spot-weld model is compared with the commonly used nine-node model for folding patterns, crushing forces, and energy absorptions.
With the same number of spot-welds on fine meshes (e.g., 2 mm), both the octagonal and nine-node models show similar results. On coarse meshes (e.g., 3 or 4 mm), the new octagonal model outperforms the nine-node model. The reason behind this is that the octagonal model is less sensitive to existing meshes and has a constant spot-weld size. It is also observed that the spot-weld locations and remeshing around the spot-welds affect the behavior of the new spot-weld model and deserve further investigation. There are several advantages of the new spot-weld model: 1. No effect of the component‟s meshes on the size and location of a spotweld 2. Better geometric representation compared to the single-point connections and area connections using quadratic or hexagonal elements 3. Less computational costs by employing coarser meshes on the components than using more-refined meshes in the current models. To conclude, the new spot-weld model has advantages of both the singlepoint and area-connected spot-weld models in which the former has less computational cost and the later is more realistic. As a future scope, the joining sheets with different mesh patterns/sizes can be analyzed. Also, the remeshing zone can be created automatically using computer code of better remeshing algorithms.
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