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Influence of blank holding force on the forming limits of DP590 steel

Chetan Nikhare1, a, Ravilson Antonio Chemin Filho2,b, Luiz Mauricio Valente

Tigrinho2,c and Paulo Victor Prestes Marcondes2,d

Mechanical Engineering Department, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH-03824, USA

Universidade Federal do Paran, DEMEC, Av. Cel. Francisco H. dos Santos, 210, CEP 81531990, Curitiba, Paran, Brazil, Caixa - 19011,,,

Keywords: Forming limits, stretch forming, biaxial stress state, thickness gradient criterion, AHSS

Abstract. In most of the sheet metal forming operations the metal experiences the stretching forces
and often leads to thinning which further proceeds to necking or fracture. To understand the
necking and fracture, forming limit curve is the useful tool which helps in design the forces on the
critical region of the component, produces the useful product. This forming limit curve defines
material characteristics in various deformation modes. Forming limit curve is the plot between the
minor and major strain of the neck region. The standard practice to plot the forming limit curve
applies the lock-bead to the sheet metal specimen i.e. no flow of the material was considered during
forming. Thus it was assumed that the forming limit curve is dependent on material properties and
the influence of any of the process parameter was ignored. However in the actual forming process
blank holding force is often considered in designing the component. In this paper the influence of
blank holding force on the DP590 steel stretch forming was studied. Four different blank holding
forces were considered and numerically modeled to predict the failure limits. It was found that
increasing the blank holding force increases the forming limit in biaxial deformation mode.
Trial-and-error procedure on the shop floor during forming, often results in change in the design
of the tool to successfully stamp the product. These changes in the design could occur due to the
usage of a new material with better formability, adjustments to the design of tools and/or the
process parameters variation. In order to avoid the trial-and-error procedure, it is necessary to
understand the formability of these materials in a better way for cost reduction and process
optimization. Formability evaluation is a complex method due to the involvement of various
process parameters individually or in combination, plays an influential role in sheet metal stamping
process. Researchers are continuously trying to understand the presence of these parameters and
their advantages and limitations, particularly; the influence on the fracture behavior of advanced
high strength steels (AHSS).
Many studies have been carried out to investigate the necking and fracture behavior of AHSS
steels [1-8]. Anderson [1] reported that all ductile fracture occurs by dimple rupture mechanisms
which absorbs little energy and fracture is always fragile. Wulpi [2] also proposed a classification
for the different modes of fractures that occurs in metals. He reported that the metal may fracture by
shearing or cleavage. The failure will depend on how the crystal structure of the material behaves
under a given load. According to the ASM Handbook [3], the essential difference between a ductile
and a brittle fracture is the mechanism of propagation that in the first case is stable - occurs under
increasing load - and in the second case is unstable - occurs when a certain critical stress is reached.
Narayanasamy et al. [4-5], reported studies in the fracture of HSLA, microalloyed and carbonmanganese steels under three different stress/strain states, namely tensile-compression stress,
biaxial tensile stress and plane strain. The analyses by SEM found ductile fracture with some
peculiarities in the dimples. They reported elongated dimples - mainly in HSLA - due to the
presence of second phase particles. Similar observation was made in [6] where DP590 steel fracture

suddenly without any neck and conclude that this is because the deformation ability of second
phase. Other study observed that with the increase in strain rate the forming limit dropped in biaxial
stress state [7]. According to Wagoner et al. [8] the crack produced after bending corresponds to a
shear fracture and it is due to localized necking caused by the tensile stresses during bending. There
is also the possibility of this type of fracture occur due to the stress/strain state imposed that can
promote a weakening of the material during bending. Most of the aforementioned studies
investigate the necking and fracture at microscopic level. Whereas very limited literature is
available on the effect of process parameter on forming limits. In this paper one of the important
process parameter called Blank holding force was studied and its effect on forming limits in
biaxial stress state.
Material and Methodology
Material. The forming of DP590 grade with an overall thickness of 1.97mm was investigated in
this study. The true stress-strain curve used for the numerical investigation is shown in Figure 1
while the mechanical properties can be found in Table 1.

Fig. 1 Tensile true stress-strain curve for

DP590 steel [9]

Fig. 2 Experimental set-up of Erichsen stretch

forming test [9]

Table. 1 Tensile mechanical properties of DP590 steel [9]

YS (MPa) TS (MPa) Elongation (%) Reduction in K (MPa)
Area (%)


Methodology. To understand the effect of blank holding force on the forming limits, Erichsen
stretch forming set-up was modeled and simulated for biaxial loading path using Abaqus/Explicit.
Two models were created, one without blankholder, which had the boundary condition to fix the
outer edge of blank during deformation (i.e. no material feed). The other model was with
blankholder. In the second model four different blank holding forces (i.e., 100, 500, 1300 and
2300kN) were applied and forming limit was predicted in each case. This was further compared
with the previous published work of the first author.
Stretch forming test. Stretch forming tests for the biaxial strain condition were performed using
the Erichsen sheet metal tester and the tooling shown in Figure 2. The radius for the lock-bead was
5mm. For lubrication purpose, a sandwich construction of oil together with polymer foil (thickness
of thin foil = 0.1mm and thick foil = 0.35mm) was used in each test. The punch speed was
100mm/min and enough blank-holding force was applied to lock the sheet in lock bead. Tests were
performed with an initial test speed of 100mm/min and slowed down towards the end of the test to
allow the exact determination of the initiation of necking.
Thickness measurement. Experimentally to measure the thickness distribution a small strip of
the test specimen was cut perpendicular to the crack [9]. Marks were indented using a Vickerss
hardness tester along the specimen edge at a pre-defined distance of 2mm. Figure 3 shows the

chopped strip and the region where the thickness measurements were taken. This procedure
facilitated the exact recording of the distances between the particular locations where the thickness
measurements were taken [9]. Images of different parts of the specimen were taken using an optical
microscope. Thus in each image at least two indentation points were present [9]. The thickness of
the specimen at each measurement location was determined using UTHSCA image tool software

Fig. 3 Cut strip in stretch forming for thickness measurement [9]

Forming limit diagram. To generate the limit strain from biaxial loading the Erichsen sheet
metal tester with the stretch forming tool (Figure 2) was used. Samples with a diameter of 150mm
were used to produce biaxial deformation path. Diameter of 2.5 mm circle grids was
electrochemically etched on the specimens. A sandwich construction of oil together with two PPfoils was used for lubrication purpose. Enough blank holding force was applied to lock the sheet in
the bead so that the specimens were clamped on their edges with and stretched by the hemispherical
punch until necking occurred in each test. Initially the punch moves with the velocity of
100mm/min, while towards the end of each test the velocity was decreased so as to allow easy
determination of the onset of necking. The deformation of circles was evaluated using the grid
analyzer GPA 3.0 and the FLD was obtained by plotting the line between the strains for the necked
and the safe points [9].
Numerical Method. Using ABAQUS/Explicit 6.10, the stretch forming tests were investigated
with a three-dimensional model approach. The tooling was given as rigid surfaces, while S4R shell
elements (4-node quadrilateral, reduced integration) were used to mesh the blank with mesh size of
2 mm. Full model was used to reduce any discrepancy for both tests. The average sheet thickness
measured experimentally for the DP steel was detailed in the model and the true stress-strain data,
determined in the tensile tests, was applied to define the material properties of the particular steel
type using isotropic hardening and von-Mises yield criterion.

Fig. 4 Stretch forming model (a) without blank holder and (b) with blankholder
All conditions and process parameters as present in the experimental tests were applied in the
numerical model. As in experiments the process was highly lubricated (grease and thin and thick
polyethylene foils), the interaction between the blank and the rigid bodies was assumed zero
friction. For the simulation of the stretch forming process the flange region of the specimen was
neglected and the outside edge was fixed in the boundary conditions for no blankholder case
(Figure 4a). This assumes a perfect clamping and no movement of the specimen between the
blankholder and the die surface. Figure 4b shows the model with blankholder. The lock bead

geometry was removed from the blankholder and the die geometry to apply different blank holding
force. Note that the blankholder holds the blank from the same circumference line where bead;
locks the sheet in the former case. The forming limit was predicted by thickness gradient criterion
detailed in next paragraph. Thickness distribution was measured along the arrow shown in Figure 5.

Fig. 5 Simulated cup during stretch forming for thickness measurement

Thickness gradient criterion. To predict the forming limit strains from the simulation, this
work will follow the thickness gradient criterion. A localized neck is recognized by the presence of
a critical local thickness gradient in the sheet metal during forming. This kind of the localized neck
is independent of the strain path, rate of forming and the type of sheet metal (i.e. the material
properties) being formed. At the onset of a visible local neck the existence of the critical local
thickness gradient Rcritical is occurred. During the deformation, a thickness gradient, Rthickness gradient
develops in the sheet which is expressed in Eq. 1.

This thickness gradient keeps on reducing from initial thickness value during forming. At the
onset of localized necking the thickness gradient becomes steeper. Thus a critical value attains at
this transition from diffused necking. The criterion is represented in Eq. 2.
Rthickness gradient Rcritical
The Rcritical is experimentally estimated as 0.92. If Rthickness gradient is less than 0.92, the component
is considered as necked [10-13].
Results and Discussion
The force displacement curve numerically predicted for the stretch forming process is compared
to the experimental data (Figure 6). Good correlation between the experimental results and the FEA
prediction is achieved. Figure 7 shows the force displacement curve for different blank holding
force compared with the no blankholder case. It is observed that force required to neck the dome
with the application of blankholder is higher compared to the case with no blankholder. The exact
reason to observe the higher force is not yet understood. Whereas it can be seen that with the
increase in blank holding force the formation of neck is delayed. However, the saturation can be
experienced with further increase in blank holding force greater than 1300kN (Figure 8).

Fig. 6 Experimental and numerical force displacement comparison during biaxial stretch forming

The experimental forming limit curve which was generated in the previous work [9] by
deforming samples from uniaxial to biaxial loading cases is shown in the Figure 9. The predicted
limit strain for biaxial loading case was plotted in the same Figure 9 for no blankholder as well as
with four different blank holding force cases. The predicted limit strain for no blankholder (i.e.,
similar to locking the sheet with the help of bead in experiments) agreed with the experimental
biaxial loading. However with the increase in blank holding force the neck formation delayed and
limit strain increased. Note that even the force displacement curve were identical for blank holding
force of 1300 and 2300kN, but the limit strain for 2300kN is 13% higher than 1300kN.

Fig. 7 Numerical force displacement during

biaxial stretch forming for different blank
holding force (BHF)

Fig. 8 Numerical force displacement during

biaxial stretch forming for BHF of 1300 and

Fig. 9 Base forming limit curve and biaxial

limits for different BHF

Fig. 10 Thickness distribution along the

length from neck

The thickness distributions determined in the experimental test (previous work [9]) is compared
with the FEA-prediction (no blankholder case) in Figure 10. Relatively weak prediction is
observed. However with the increase in blank holding force the higher and more uniform thinning
were predicted. The more uniform thinning generation would be the reason of increase in forming
limits in biaxial case for increase in blank holding force.
FEA was performed to deform the DP590 sheet metal with Erichsen sheet metal tester in biaxial
loading case and forming limit was predicted with thickness gradient criterion and compared with
the experimental results from previous work performed by first author. The model without
blankholder (i.e., similar to locking the sheet metal with bead in experiments) and with blankholder
were created. Four different blank holding forces were applied to predict the forming limit strain.

Even though the force displacement curves were identical the forming limit was higher with
increase in blank holding force. This can be seen in the thickness distribution figure where the
higher and more uniform thinning was predicted with the increase in blank holding force. However
the FEA model failed to represent the thinning compared to experimental result. As an overall
summary the forming limit strain were predicted higher with increase in blank holding force.
The previous experimental work which was referred here for comparison purpose was supported
by Deakin University. In particular, we would like to thank Dr. Matthias Weiss and Prof. Peter D
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