FEA in the Design Process of Rubber Bushings

Ryan E. Paige
Cooper Standard Automotive NVH Control Systems Division 207 West Street Auburn, IN 46706 Abstract: The development of the rubber bushing as a vibration control system component can be very complex. This makes finite element analysis (FEA) a valuable and often necessary tool in the design process as it can include many of the bushing design variables and accurately predict resulting behaviors. This paper demonstrates how FEA can be incorporated into the design process to capture complexities such as pre-compression, voids, simple friction effects and other complex geometry. Comparisons of numerical, analytical and test data are shown for some specific bushing designs and then the numerical method is used to demonstrate the effective range of behavior resulting from modifying various design parameters individually.

1. Introduction
Filled natural rubber bushings are widely used in automotive engineering for vibration control. It has the ability to be used in a simple packaging space yet can be easily modified to exhibit complex and variable behaviors. In today's industry the bushing has become an intricate part of the structure as it is expected to perform more elaborate functions and meet increasingly precise requirements. The resulting development process of the bushing as a component can range from a somewhat simple to a complicated design. The finite element method provides a powerful tool to quickly assess complicated bushing designs and vary the necessary parameters to meet the given requirements. The results of the analyses make it possible to achieve product requirements quickly for very complex designs. Rubber bushings come in many shapes and sizes but typically can be described as consisting of an outer metal sleeve and an inner metal tube with a molded annular rubber element (see Figure 1 for example). The rubber geometry is characteristically described by an inner and outer radius and an axial length or height. The rubber often incorporates some sort of void configuration and ends or sides can be tapered, filleted and so forth. For the purpose of this paper it is necessary to classify bushings in three general categories describing the production processes that must be incorporated to accurately predict behavior. 1. 2. Mold bonded bushing – The cross-linking (vulcanization) and cross-bridging (bonding between rubber and adhesive layers applied to metals) occur simultaneously in the mold. Post bonded bushing – The cross-bridging is post vulcanization and occurs separately from the mold process. The post bonded bushing includes those bushings that may be utilizing both a mold bond and post bond, one to the inner metal and one to the outer metal. The post

2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference


the radial rate can now be described as both radial solid and radial void rates. One is a long bushing where plain strain is assumed. torsional and conical (or tilting) and may include static preloads. Kr = βLG (1) 2 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference . deflection curve. and a secondary rate referring to the stiffness before and after the void is closed. This is typically done to eliminate stresses due to rubber shrinkage upon cooling but the amount of precompression can be varied to affect rates as well. and the stiffness of the bushing can be characterized both statically and dynamically.bond usually involves radial pre-compression to the rubber by the inner or outer metal before cross-bridging. 2. and often necessity of FEA in bushing design. Static stiffness can be non-linear varying with load or deflection and is described by a load vs. pre-load. 3. In industry. mold bonded bushings normally include a radial pre-compression accomplished by a swaging process of the outer metal as part of assembly. The main characteristics of interest for the bushing are stiffness and durability. 1954) which considers two special cases for simplification. 2. The void direction rate (and even solid direction rates for large voids) is then comprised of a primary rate. Bushings perform a variety of functions usually pertaining to vibration isolation and load absorption. Shot bushing – The rubber is molded and then subjected to significant radial pre-compression by an under sized outer metal and over sized inner metal relying on friction to prevent slip between the metal and rubber under loading instead of an actual bond. for example. axial. one that consists of inner and outer metal tubes that are bonded to an annular rubber wall of uniform length with planar ends and does not include any pre-compression. and can be related directly to the dynamic stiffness as well. and the other is a short bushing where plain stress is assumed.1 Radial Stiffness Approximation The methods most commonly used to approximate the radial stiffness of a simple bushing analytically are based on the work of (Adkins and Gent. it is not reasonable to oversimplify behavior in the design process by ignoring all the differences and variations achievable with a bushing. Adding voids to a bushing creates multiple radial and conical rates. Characterization of bushing stiffness can be quite involved. or rate curve (and may be referred to as just the rate). Classical Bushing Theory Much of the classical theory refers to a very simple bushing. voids or other geometric complexities. only static stiffness is considered for the scope of this paper since it is the most fundamental design characteristic. The behavior of these simple bushings can be approximated by analytical methods developed for the various modes of deflection. The bushing stiffness characterization can be further divided into the following directional rates: radial. The remainder of the document will briefly review classical bushing theory and then provide more detailed discussion of numerical and experimental results to demonstrate the value. The shot bushing includes those that combine a shot inner or outer with a mold bonded outer or inner. As is evident from the explication and characterization of the bushing. However. These conditions yield the following analytical expression for the radial stiffness of a simple bushing.

1992) used in the natural rubber engineering community is β ≈ βS + 0. FEA is used to capture a range of behaviors possible from individual design parameter and assembly process parameter changes. Furthermore. Bushing FEA In industry. As the bushing requirements and design become more complex it is evident why the benefits of FEA for bushings is tremendous. 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference 3 .15(β L − β S )L (D − d ) (2) which works well for simple bushings where d / D = 0. 1999). A more detailed discussion of exact and approximate expressions of radial stiffness for a simple bushing of finite length is presented by (Horton.5 .where K r = radial stiffness G = shear modulus L = bushing length β = numerical factor corresponding to a long or short bushing as follows βS 2 2 80π D + d = 2 2 2 2 25 D + d ln (D / d ) − 9 D − d βL ) ( ) ( ) 2 2 4π (D + d ) = (D 2 + d 2 )ln(D / d ) − (D 2 − d 2 ) ( where D = outer diameter of rubber d = inner diameter of rubber Many bushings in industry are intermediate in length resulting in a behavior that is between these two extremes.2 Axial Stiffness Approximation Commonly used formulae to approximate the axial stiffness of a simple bushing analytically are based on the work of (Rivlin. However. similar to the bushing shown in Figure 1. A commonly used analytical approximation for axial stiffness is given by Ka = log10 (D / d ) 2. 2. 1949). The focus of the remainder of the document is to demonstrate the value and necessity of FEA to accurately predict and evaluate the behavior of not only the simpler bushings but also those of very complicated design.73GL (3) where Ka = axial stiffness. classical bushing theory is useful for only a fraction of bushing concept development but the potential of FEA for bushings was pointed out by (Morman and Pan. 3. a typical interpolation (Lindley. 1987).

This process parameter will affect rates.2 Sizing Effects on Initial Static Rates and Correlation at Small Strain Routinely. a different rubber compound was used in the bushings for the axial data and for the radial data such that they have different values of G and different material models.0mm of deflection.0mm of deflection.5mm and 1.5mm and 1. changes produced by varying a specific design parameter may have larger or smaller effects on similar but non-identical parts.0mm. a mold bonded bushing this simple is not common in industry as the design would typically incorporate sizing or pre-compression. The sizing is typically accomplished by a swaging process that shrinks the outer metal radially inward. the behavior of natural rubber components is very dependent on overall geometry including the small details. Unique designs need to examined individually to quantify the amount of change in behavior.5%. planar tension and equibiaxial tension. The amount of the effect of the sizing process depends somewhat on the overall geometry of the bushing. Before proceeding. A 2-3% radial reduction of the rubber wall thickness is generally used for the elimination of residual material stresses and larger amounts typically ranging from 3-6% are used to introduce radial precompression. However. or sizing of the bushing. perfectly elastic. no voids and no radial precompression. especially radial rates so that it is necessary to include in behavior predictions. The three deformation modes used are uniaxial tension. Note here. 3. The rubber compound in bushings typically undergo very complex multiple states of deformation. Some of the fundamentals are briefly discussed here. 2000) discusses elastomer testing for hyperelastic material models in much more detail. even the simple mold bonded bushings used in industry are sized as shown for the bushing in Figure 1. There is no common standard defined for calculating the rates of these bushings but for this example the initial radial rates are calculated linearly between 0. Figure 4 shows the initial (small strain) static radial rate of the same simple bushing in Figure 1 after it has been sized 4. Figure 2 shows the initial (small strain) static radial rate of the bushing comparing experimental data to FEA and classical theory based on Equations 1 and 2. The initial rates in this example were calculated linearly between 0. The same simple bushings used for acquisition of the non-sized experimental data were the same ones radially pre-compressed and used for the sized bushing data acquisition. slightly compressible and operating at a specific temperature. Thus. it is not the intent of this paper to address this subject in detail. pure shear and compression. The material for these bushings is also assumed to be isotropic. Experimental data is compared to FEA and classical theory based on Equations 1 and 2. The axial rates for this example are calculated between 2. As expected. each cyclically loaded to specific strain levels until stabilized.ABAQUS was used for all FEA discussed herein.0mm and 3. Moreover. it must also be understood the importance of good material models for accurate FEA. All analyses employed common hyperelastic material models based on curve fits of experimental stress strain data for a particular compound. the test data utilizes three modes of deformation. This eliminates any mold process variation or vulcanization differences in experimental data. (Miller.1 Simple Mold Bonded Bushing Static Rate Correlation at Small Strain The bushing on the left in Figure 1 is an example of a very simple mold bonded bushing of natural rubber compound. however. The bushing design is at its most basic with planar ends. For this reason and good practice. which correspond to tension. 3. this fundamental design at small strains yields favorable predictions for both classical theory and FEA. Figure 3 makes this same comparison for axial rates with the classical theory results based on Equation 3. Even at 4 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference .

Figure 6 shows the radial rate of the simple bushing versus pre-compression from sizing 2%. or the fact that the ends of a bushing often are not planar.5%. Another geometric design variable for bushings is the end condition. 9% and 12%pre-compression.3 Complex Bushing Correlation at Large Strains Today. but less than 7000N for the void direction. The ends may incorporate scallops or grooves to varying degrees or conical build-ups of rubber at the inner or outer metal. 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference 5 . As demonstrated in this example. FEA proves useful for predicting radial rate changes due to sizing.5%). but also post bonding the outer metal. small voids and a non-planar end condition. when and how quickly the changes in rate occur can be assessed with FEA. This small void also yields roughly a 2:1 secondary to primary rate ratio in the void direction.000N to achieve 7mm of static deflection in the radial solid direction. Additionally. all of which are necessary to include to predict behavior well. This will allow not only the primary rates to be determined but secondary as well. and show a rate variation of about 40%. It takes almost 10. comparing experimental data to FEA and classical theory based on Equation 3. The radial solid direction rate curves are shown in Figure 9 which again shows excellent correlation between FEA and experimental data taken from five individual bushings. it is used here for relative comparison since it will allow for larger amounts of pre-compression. The radial rates are calculated at a strain of approximately 25%. The methods yield a difference in boundary conditions during the assembly phase of the bushing. Although typically post bonding the outer metal will not be done to a bushing with this simple of geometry. The right side of Figure 7 shows this bushing after being sized and then subjected to a large radial load in the void direction. again sized roughly 4. Even with this small void the radial rates will vary significantly. 3. Of course. Figure 7 shows an example of a more complex mold bonded bushing design used for NVH control in the automotive industry referred to hereafter as the baseline complex bushing design. this particular bushing has an initial radial rate increase of nearly 20%. The left side of Figure 7 shows the bushing cut in half in its as molded free state. FEA correlates well with changes in this design parameter simulating the effects of sizing on behavior. This amount of loading combined with the significant pre-compression put the bushing at levels over 40% strain. the majority of mold bonded bushings in industry will incorporate not only pre-compression but also complex geometry such that the bushing can be tuned to different rates along all three axes. For the post bonded case the rubber can expand axially at the outer metal interface during radial compression and is then fixed. or bonded for loading. 4% and 6%. Figure 5 shows the resulting initial axial static rates for the same simple bushing. The radial rates are sensitive to various amounts of radial pre-compression so not only is sizing considered here.small strains. classical theory does not account for this but FEA will make it possible to predict necessary shapes and sizes for the voids. This example shows that the axial rate in a mold bonded bushing is much less sensitive to sizing than radial rate when considering typical amounts of sizing as discussed previously. and post bonding to the outer metal after 6%. This bushing incorporates various design parameters including sizing (about 7. Figure 8 compares experimental results versus FEA results in the radial void direction showing very good correlation to experimental data from five individual bushings for both primary rates and secondary rates which occur after the void is in full contact. Adding voids to a bushing is an easy way to introduce multiple and variable radial and conical.

using friction coefficients of 0.3 yields results very close to the no-slip condition.4 Void Size Effect The size and geometry of the void are very important for determining rates. Figure 10 shows the complicated baseline bushing design previously discussed with significantly larger voids. Often predicting the secondary rate. This example shows a distinction between the frictionless case and incorporating friction. Often changes in end geometry are more subtle than this example. Figure 11 numerically compares the radial void direction rate curves for the same bushing design. Common sense dictates that changing the void size will change rate characteristics.3.3. The design sensitivity of this parameter for complex bushings can be 6 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference . a coefficient of 0. Figure 12 numerically compares the radial solid direction rate curves for the same bushing design. the surfaces of the void come into contact invoking both normal and shear forces. including simple static Coulomb friction in the model is considered. Figure 14 shows the baseline complex bushing with planar ends in its as molded free state on the left and loaded state on the right. again with the only difference being the void size. however.5 Friction Effect Accurate void geometry has the greatest impact on characterization of primary rates for the radial void direction but friction also plays a role in the secondary rates. varying only the void size. while the baseline bushing design has an initial rate of about 600N/mm that gradually changes after 2mm of displacement. 3. however FEA can be used to predict how significant the changes will be.1 and 0. Examining the intricacies of friction in detail is beyond the scope of this paper. and a no slip interaction. the left side showing the bushing in its as molded free state and the right side showing the bushing after radial loading. Rubber friction behavior is very complex. The large void bushing model is used here due to the clarity of the void being fully open and fully closed. but still must be considered. This demonstrates how variations in the end geometry for a bushing geometry must also be considered to predict behavior accurately. 3. Figure 15 uses the numerical results to compare the resulting radial rates due to this particular change in the bushing geometry. when it occurs and whether the rate change is abrupt or gradual may be required.7 Sizing Effect at Large Strain for Radial Void Rates Previously it was shown how much influence various amounts of sizing have on the initial radial rates of a simple mold bonded bushing. In this example there is almost a 30% difference in load at 7mm deflection in both the radial solid and radial void directions. As the bushing void closes. the sensitivity to the amount of friction is only relevant for very small coefficients of friction when using the basic Coulomb friction model. As demonstrated for this case. Figure 13 shows numerical results used to compare the difference in secondary (after void closure) radial rates for frictionless contact. Note how the bushing with the large void carries the initial radial void rate of about 105N/mm nearly 6mm and then transitions abruptly. However. The large void design also achieves about an 11:1 secondary to primary radial void rate ratio. exhibiting non-linearity in both the static and kinetic friction interactions which change relative to different amounts of compression in the rubber. Many bushings with voids are designed such that the void will close under radial load in the void direction and continue to carry load yielding a specific secondary rate.6 End Condition Effect Adding or removing rubber at the ends of a bushing can have a significant effect on stiffness rates. 3. yielding a 15% difference in radial load at 2mm deflection after the void has closed.

K. “Load-Deflexion Relations of Rubber Bush Mountings. MRPRA. Conclusion A brief history and theory were provided to show the relevance and enormous benefits of utilizing FEA in the development process of natural rubber bushings. J. J.” Axel Products. 6. The baseline complex bushing is sized 7. Examples were given to show correlation with experimental data and numerical results were used to illustrate examples of design parameter sensitivity. vol. 1992. 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference 7 . 3. Inc.5% and 4%... P. Morman. Lindley. The void direction static radial rate curves are shown in Figure 16 for the same bushing sized 1. “Testing Elastomers for Hyperelastic Material Models in Finite Element Analysis. References 1. Philos. 2000. Muhr). Soc. “Stiffness of Rubber Bush Mountings Subjected to Radial Loading.5% sizing. Rivlin. Trans. pp. The radial force necessary for a 7mm static deflection for the baseline is about 6800N. 73. Miller.” British Journal of Applied Physics.” Rubber Chemistry and Technology. C. 1954.. 173. and A. Gover. M. N. 1987..5% based on rubber wall thickness to which the model shows very good agreement with experimental data. K.” Rubber Chemistry and Technology. Gent. Ser. pp. N. and G. vol.enormous at large strains. 4. and to 4930N when sized only 1.. and compared to the baseline of 7. Tupholme. and D. 253-264. “Application of FEA in the Design of Automotive Components. and T. Y. Adkins. vol. G. B. 5. London.5%. M. 1999. J. The extent to which variations in the amount of sizing will influence the behavior of the baseline complex bushing is further demonstrated here numerically. M. A 242. pp. 503-533. Fuller and A.” 5th ed. (revised by K. Saunders. E. Pan. and drops to 5650N when sized 4%. FEA allows one to evaluate the sensitivity of many design parameters in the detail necessary to accurately predict complex bushing stiffness rate behavior. 61.. R. 354-358. 5. even in radial void rates. 2. H. R. E. 5. 4.W. 1949. S. Horton. “Engineering Design with Natural Rubber.

Simple mold bonded bushing before sizing and after sizing. (k = 1370 N/mm) FEA (k = 1395 N/mm) cl.5 Deflection (mm) 1 1. 3000 2500 2000 Load (N) 1500 1000 500 0 0 0. 8 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference .0mm).5 expt.Figure 1. theory (k = 1670 N/mm) Figure 2.5 and 1. Initial static radial rate curves of a simple bushing (k – stiffness between 0.

0mm). 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference 9 .5 and 1. 3000 expt. theory (k = 340 N/mm) Load (N) 1500 1000 500 0 0 1 2 3 Deflection (mm) 4 5 6 Figure 3.2500 expt. (k = 1625 N/mm) 2500 2000 FEA (k = 1635 N/mm) cl. theory (k= 1840 N/mm) Load (N) 1500 1000 500 0 0 0. Initial static axial rate curves of a simple bushing (k – stiffness between 2.0mm).5 Deflection (mm) 1 1.5% (k – stiffness between 0. (k = 350 N/mm) 2000 FEA (k = 370 N/mm) cl.0 and 3. Initial static radial rate curves of a simple bushing sized 4.5 Figure 4.

0mm). theory (k = 350 N/mm) Load (N) 1500 1000 500 0 0 1 2 3 Deflection (mm) 4 5 6 Figure 5. Radial rate comparison of simple bushing with various levels of precompression. 10 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference . 2500 sizing process 2250 post bonding outer metal Radial Rate (N/mm) 2000 1750 1500 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 % Radial Pre-Compression Figure 6. Initial static axial rate curves of a simple bushing sized 4.5% (k – stiffness between 2.2500 expt.0 and 3. (k = 330 N/mm) 2000 FEA (k = 350 N/mm) cl.

(specimen_3) expt.(specimen_2) expt.(specimen_4) expt. Mold bonded baseline complex bushing design in free state on left and deformed shape after radial void loading on right (ID=25mm and OD=60mm). 7000 6000 5000 expt. Void direction radial rate comparison of experimental data versus FEA for mold bonded bushing with small void at large strain. 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference 11 .(specimen_1) expt.(specimen_5) radial_void_FEA secondary rate Load (N) 4000 3000 2000 void closure primary rate 1000 0 0 1 2 3 4 Deflection (mm) 5 6 7 Figure 8.Figure 7.

(specimen_5) radial_solid_FEA Load (N) 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 0 1 2 3 4 Deflection (mm) 5 6 7 Figure 9. Solid direction radial rate comparison of experimental data versus FEA for mold bonded bushing with small void at large strain. 12 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference .(specimen_4) expt. Mold bonded baseline complex bushing design with larger void (free state on left and deformed shape after radial void direction loading on the right).10000 9000 8000 7000 expt. Figure 10.(specimen_3) expt.(specimen_2) expt.(specimen_1) expt.

6000 radial_rate_curve (small_void) 5000 4000 radial_rate_curve (large void) k2 = 1260 N/mm Load (N) 3000 2000 k1 = 600 N/mm 1000 k1 = 105 N/mm 0 0 2 4 Deflection (mm) 6 k2 = 1150 N/mm Figure 11. 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference 13 . 10000 radial_rate_curve (baseline) 8000 radial_rate_curve (large_void) Load (N) 6000 4000 2000 0 0 1 2 3 4 Deflection (mm) 5 6 7 Figure 12. Radial solid direction rate curves for same mold bonded bushing with different void geometries and size at large strain. Radial void direction rate curves for same mold bonded bushing with different void geometries and size at large strain.

3 no-slip 2500 Load (N) 2000 1500 1000 500 5 6 Defelection (mm) 7 8 Figure 13. Effect of simple constant friction coefficient for void surfaces on secondary radial rate (numerical results).1 mu = 0. 14 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference .3000 frictionless mu = 0. Mold bonded bushing with small void and planar ends in free state and deformed shape after radial void loading. Figure 14.

0% sized 7.5% 7000 6000 sized 4. 2002 ABAQUS Users’ Conference 15 . Comparison of sizing effects on static radial void direction rate curves for the complex baseline bushing design at large strain.5% Load (N) 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 0 1 2 3 4 Deflection (mm) 5 6 7 Figure 16.10000 9000 8000 7000 Load (N) radial_void_rate (baseline) radial_void_rate (planar_ends) radial_solid_rate (baseline) radial_solid_rate (planar_ends) 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 0 1 2 3 4 Deflection (mm) 5 6 7 Figure 15. 8000 sized 1. Comparison of radial rates for the complex baseline bushing design with different geometric end conditions at large strain.

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