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International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 487–494

Adaptive FEM simulation for prediction of variable blank holder

force in conical cup drawing
Z.Q. Sheng, S. Jirathearanat, T. Altan 
Engineering Research Center for Net Shape Manufacturing (ERC/NSM), The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Received 20 April 2003; received in revised form 25 September 2003; accepted 5 November 2003


Fracture and wrinkling are two primary failure modes in deep drawing of sheet metal parts. Previous studies showed that prop-
erly selected variable blank holder force (BHF) profile, i.e. variation of BHF with punch stroke, can eliminate these failures to
draw deeper parts. In this study, an adaptive simulation strategy was developed to adjust the magnitude of the BHF continuously
during the simulation process. Thus, a BHF profile is predicted in a single process simulation run and the computation time is
reduced. The proposed strategy has been applied successfully to two conical cup drawing operations. The predictions have been
compared with experiments and the results indicate that the adaptive simulation strategy can also be used to improve the drawing
process for forming non-symmetric parts.
# 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Adaptive simulation; Feedback control; FEM; Blank holder force; Sheet metal forming

1. Introduction or segmented blank holder can be used to obtain a

non-uniform BHF over the part flange area. Thus, it is
In deep drawing, the quality of the formed part is possible to account for variations of the metal flow
affected by the amount of metal drawn into the die cav- over different locations of the blank holder surface
ity. Excessive metal flow will cause wrinkles in the part, [2,3].
while insufficient metal flow will result in tears or splits. A good variable BHF profile is usually determined
The blank holder plays a key role in regulating the by conducting time-consuming FEM simulations or
metal flow by exerting a predefined blank holder force experimental trials [4]. For simple part geometries, the
(BHF) profile. When selected properly, this BHF pro- variable BHF profiles can be predicted analytically [5].
file can eliminate wrinkles and delay fracture in the However, so far, most analytically predicted BHF pro-
drawn part [1,2]. files have not correlated well with experimental obser-
Usually, in deep drawing, a constant BHF is applied vations [4]. An efficient method for predicting variable
over the punch stroke. During the drawing process, the BHF profiles is to use a closed-loop controlled FEM
state of stress in the deforming material changes signifi- simulation. In this method, the forming process is
cantly. Consequently, the process conditions that simulated, and a control strategy suggests appropriate
reduce wrinkling and fracture also change. To take into BHF levels based on the part formability predicted at
account these changes, it is reasonable that the BHF any given time step in the process simulation. Thus, the
should also be modified to increase the formability of BHF is continuously adjusted during the drawing oper-
the drawn part [2]. To further improve the formability ation and a desired BHF is obtained in a single FEM
when drawing complex or asymmetric parts, an elastic simulation.
Hardt et al. [7,8] implemented a closed-loop control

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-614-292-5063; fax: +1-614-292-
to regulate BHF in order to stabilize the drawing pro-
7219. cess. Sim and Boyce [6] applied the method introduced
E-mail address: (T. Altan). in [7] to drawing process simulation. They determined
0890-6955/$ - see front matter # 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
488 Z.Q. Sheng et al. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 487–494

a BHF profile for a round cup drawing through a

closed-loop controlled simulation system. Cao and
Boyce [9] applied a similar method to predict a variable
BHF profile for conical cup drawing and increased the
failure-free drawing depth of a conical cup over that
obtained with a constant BHF profile. In their method,
major principal strains and amplitudes of wrinkles
occurring at the die radius were used as state variables
for adjusting BHF. Thomas [4] also devised a closed-
loop controlled FEM system to predict variable BHF
profiles that improve the drawability of a round cup Fig. 2. Geometry of steel conical cup tooling used at ERC/NSM.
Dd ¼ 158:2 mm, Dp ¼ 88:9 mm, Rd ¼ 16 mm, Rp ¼ 20 mm, Db ¼
and a rectangular pan. In his method, the punch load,
248 mm.
binder gap, maximum strain, and maximum stress were
treated as state variables.
In the present study, a feedback controlled ‘‘adaptive 2. Defect detection
simulation’’ strategy, which is similar to the closed- Wrinkling and fracture are the major failure modes
loop strategy used in [9,13], is developed and integrated or defects encountered in deep drawn parts. The pro-
into PAM-STAMP, a commercial FEM code (Fig. 1). posed adaptive simulation method attempts to elimin-
The objective is to determine a feasible BHF profile in ate fracture by applying the BHF at the minimum level
a single FEM simulation. necessary for suppressing the wrinkles. Thus, stretching
Similar to Cao and Boyce’s work [9,13], in which is minimized and fracture is postponed.
strains and flange wrinkle amplitudes are used as con-
trol indices, this present control algorithm utilizes 2.1. Wrinkling detection
maximum part thinning and flange wrinkle, as well as
sidewall wrinkle amplitudes calculated at every simula- Wrinkling is affected by many factors, such as pro-
tion time step. With these values as state variables, a cess parameters, contact condition, mechanical proper-
proportional plus integral (PI) controller algorithm is ties, and geometry of the blank. In FEM simulation,
used to adjust the BHF. The algorithm is designed to wrinkles can be predicted by [11]: (1) a bifurcation
regulate the BHF to the minimum required levels just analysis of a perfect structure [12] or a non-bifurcation
enough for suppressing wrinkling conditions corre- analysis employing initial imperfections [13]; (2) an
sponding to each time control step over the entire analysis of the incremental second-order energy [14];
punch stroke. With the minimum BHF applied, more and (3) a geometrical method, which directly measures
sheet material can be drawn into the die cavity, thus wrinkle dimensions of the deformed mesh [4,9,15]. In
increasing drawability. this study, the geometrical method is adopted. The
In this study, two conical cup geometries were selec- flange wrinkle amplitude (FAM) is measured from the
ted to verify the proposed adaptive simulation method: gap distance between blank holder surface and die
addendum surface (Fig. 3). The sidewall wrinkle ampli-
(a) conical cup from steel used at the ERC/NSM
tude (SAM) is measured by considering part cross-sec-
(Fig. 2) and (b) a smaller conical cup from Al alloy
tions cut by planes perpendicular to the forming
used by Cao and Boyce [9] (Fig. 8).
direction [15].

Fig. 1. Feedback controlled simulation system; adaptive simulation

flow chart. (Note: SAM ¼ sidewall wrinkle amplitude; FAM ¼ Fig. 3. Determination of sidewall wrinkle amplitude (SAM) and
flange wrinkle amplitude; see Fig. 3.) flange wrinkle amplitude (FAM) in FEM simulation of a conical cup.
Z.Q. Sheng et al. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 487–494 489

Based on observations of both simulations and

experiments in conical cup drawing, the most serious
sidewall wrinkle is usually located at 25% cup depth
(see Fig. 3). Therefore, in this study, the largest SAM
occurring at this cup location is used to represent the
severity of the sidewall wrinkle. Based on literature
[4,9], the critical wrinkle amplitudes for determining
the existence of a flange wrinkle and a sidewall wrinkle
are chosen to be at 5% and 20% of nominal sheet
thickness, respectively. These critical wrinkle ampli-
tudes, however, would be different for different parts
depending on the part functionality.

2.2. Fracture detection

An extensive literature review on this topic can be

found in [4,15]. Generally, fracture can be predicted by:
(1) strain based criteria, e.g. forming limit diagrams
(FLDs) [16,17] and maximum part thinning [4]; (2)
stress based criteria, e.g. forming limit stress diagrams Fig. 4. Flowchart of adaptive strategy (at one control time step).
(FLSDs) [18]; and (3) ductile damage criteria, e.g. the
Cockroft and Latham criterion [19]. where FAMi is the flange wrinkle amplitude at the ith
Thinning in the part wall is commonly used in indus- step, FAMi1 is the flange wrinkle amplitude at the
try to indicate probability of fracture [4]. Therefore, in
i1th step, SAMi is the sidewall wrinkle amplitude at
the present study, we also selected wall thinning as a
the ith step, and SAMi1 is the sidewall wrinkle ampli-
fracture criterion. This procedure is an approximate
method because the critical maximum thinning is affec- tudes at the i1th step.
ted by strain paths. Nevertheless, the thinning criterion In the adaptive simulation, a PI mode feedback con-
is still useful and effective in estimating the occurrence troller algorithm is applied to determine changes in
of fracture in most deep drawing operations. BHF needed for keeping the wrinkle amplitude at the
desired value. The sampling period for the proposed PI
controller is at every control time step (i.e. 1000 simu-
3. Control strategy lation steps, around punch travel of 0.3 mm). The vari-
ation of BHF is calculated using Eqs. (3) and (4):
The control strategy proposed in this study tries to ,!
maintain the wrinkle amplitude at an acceptable level BHFiþ1 ¼ BHFi þ b  Kp  Dei þ Dej l ð3Þ
by automatically adjusting the BHF at each control j¼ilþ1
time step. It is well known that the tendency of flange
wrinkles to occur is highest at the initial drawing stage and
[20]. Therefore (see Fig. 4), the current control strategy
Dei ¼ SAMi  SAMc or FAMi  FAMc ð4Þ
begins with flange wrinkle control and later switches to
sidewall wrinkle control. The switching of the control where BHFi is the BHF for the current (ith) step, BHFiþ1
strategy can be done by comparing the wrinkle tend- is the BHF for the next (iþ1th) step, FAMc is the critical
ency indicators Ifw and Isw for flange and sidewall wrin- flange wrinkle amplitude (5% nominal sheet thickness),
kle, respectively (Eqs. (1) and (2)). Once Isw > Ifw , SAMc is the critical sidewall wrinkle amplitude (20%
sidewall wrinkle control becomes active. The maximum
nominal sheet thickness), Kp is the proportional gain, l is
thinning Tmi on the part wall is monitored at each con-
the length of integral time, and b is the coefficient for the
trol time step and treated as an on–off switch for the
thinning control.
BHF control (see b in Eq. (3)). Also, once the part
When Dei < 0, and the thinning rate (i.e. Tmi  Tmi1 ,
maximum thinning Tmi exceeds a predefined critical
thinning value Tm cri , the simulation will be terminated. change of maximum thinning during one control time
step) is lower than a certain value (i.e. 0.001), b¼ 0;
Ifw ¼ ; ð1Þ otherwise, b¼ 1. The physical meaning of b¼ 0 is that
FAMi1 the BHF stays the same for the next control time step
SAMi  SAMi1 only when the wrinkle amplitude is lower than the criti-
Isw ¼ ; ð2Þ
SAMi1 cal value and the cup wall is not being thinned.
490 Z.Q. Sheng et al. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 487–494

From Eq. (3), it can be seen that once the detected Table 1
wrinkle amplitude value exceeds the critical value, the Circular blank dimensions, material properties, and friction coeffi-
cients used in the simulation of drawing the conical cup from AKDQ
BHF is increased for eliminating this deviation, thus steel
suppressing the wrinkles back to the critical amplitude
value. If the detected wrinkle amplitude should become Material AKDQ steel
Blank diameter 248 mm/9.7 in.
less than the critical value, the BHF may be decreased Blank thickness 0.86 mm/0.034 in.
or maintained the same, depending on the thinning rate Flow stress (MPa) r ¼ 795ð0:0052 þ eÞ0:2
(i.e. b), to let the wrinkles grow back to the critical Friction coefficient Punch/blank, 0.25; binder/blank,
amplitude value. 0.15; die/blank, 0.15

4. Implementation the dry interface condition that was present in the

experiments. These values were recommended by pre-
The adaptive simulation method has been imple- vious investigations [1].
mented. A controller subroutine was coded and inte-
grated into PAM-STAMP (explicit FEM code). At 4.1.2. Failure criteria
each control time step, the defects in the part being A maximum thinning of 25%, flange wrinkle ampli-
formed are detected and treated as state variables in tude of 0.05 mm, and sidewall wrinkle amplitude of
the feedback control loop for calculating changes of 0.16 mm are used as the critical fracture and critical
BHF as discussed above. The program has been veri- wrinkle amplitude criteria. The PI controller algorithm
fied by drawing two conical cup geometries: a conical adjusts the BHF profile such that the sidewall wrinkle
cup from AKDQ steel (see Fig. 2), and another from amplitude of 0.16 mm and flange wrinkle amplitude of
Al alloy [9]. 0.05 mm are maintained while the maximum thinning
of the drawing part is lower than 25%, throughout the
4.1. Drawing a conical cup from AKDQ steel drawing simulation.
The proposed adaptive simulation method is applied
4.1.3. Control constants
to predict a BHF profile that improves the drawing of
The initial values of the control constants Kp and l
a conical cup, investigated at ERC/NSM.
of Eq. (3) are determined by a sensitivity analysis on
effect of the BHF on the wrinkling amplitudes [21]. In
4.1.1. Simulation model the sensitivity analysis, two simulations with different
Due to symmetry, only one quarter of the tooling
constant BHFs are conducted and the average wrinkle
and the part are modeled (see Fig. 5). Simulation
amplitudes in the two simulations are calculated. Initial
inputs are listed in Table 1. An elastic–plastic material
proportional gains (Kpf init for flange wrinkle control,
model with isotropic hardening is considered. High
Kps init for sidewall wrinkle control) are ratios of the
friction coefficients are used in the simulation to reflect
BHF difference to the difference of the average wrinkle
amplitudes (average flange wrinkle amplitude for FAM
control and average sidewall wrinkle amplitude for
SAM control) (see Eqs. (5), (6)). An initial value for
f s
the integration length (linit for flange wrinkle and linit
for sidewall wrinkle) is calculated by the average
wavelengths of the variation of the wrinkle amplitude
control errors (Dei ¼ SAMi  SAMc for sidewall
wrinkle or Dei ¼ FAMi  FAMc for flange wrinkle),
in one simulation with a constant BHF. By conduct-
ing two simulations with constant BHFs of 18 and
17.2 kN, the initial control constants are determined
at Kpf init ¼ 3:6 kN=mm, Kps init ¼ 18:3 kN=mm, linit f
4:5 and linit ¼ 6:4 control time steps, respectively. Then,
the magnitudes of the control constants are varied until
a stable BHF profile is predicted through a few trial
adaptive simulation runs. For sidewall wrinkle control,
Fig. 5. FE model used for drawing the conical cup from AKDQ Kp ¼ 3 kN=mm and l ¼ 5 control time steps. For the
steel. flange wrinkle control, Kp ¼ 2 kN=mm and l ¼ 5 con-
Z.Q. Sheng et al. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 487–494 491

trol time steps.

jBHF1  BHF2 j
Kpf ¼  ð5Þ
init FAM1  FAM2 

jBHF1  BHF2 j
Kps ¼  ð6Þ
init SAM1  SAM2 

4.1.4. Variable BHF profile

Fig. 6 shows the variable BHF profile predicted by
adaptive simulation, compared with the optimum con-
stant BHF profile, determined in this study [21]. Using
the variable BHF profile, the cup is formed up to 47
mm depth without any failures (according to the speci- Fig. 7. Comparison of thinning distribution of cups formed with the
fied wrinkle and fracture criteria). Compared with the optimum constant BHF and the predicted variable BHF at the draw-
ing depth of 43 mm (simulation results).
cup formed with the optimal constant BHF, this repre-
sents an increase of 9% in cup depth. According to the
specified maximum thinning of 25%, with the constant from Fig. 9 that the trend of variable BHF profile pre-
BHF the cup could be drawn up to 43 mm depth. dicted by the adaptive simulation is in agreement with
The simulation results showed that the wall thinning that predicted by Cao and Boyce [9]. Towards the end
distribution is also improved by applying the variable of the punch stroke, the BHF profile predicted by the
BHF profile. Fig. 7 compares the wall thinning dis- adaptive simulation rapidly increases (indicating an
tributions of the cups formed to a drawing depth of 43
mm with both variable and constant BHF profiles. It is
seen that the part thinning reduces not only at the
punch nose area, but also at other locations through-
out the cup wall.

4.2. Drawing a conical cup from Al alloy

An adaptive simulation is also conducted to predict

a BHF profile for increasing the draw depth of Al alloy
conical cup discussed in [9] (see geometry in Fig. 8).
The simulation inputs are listed in Table 2.
By applying the proposed adaptive simulation, a
variable BHF profile is predicted (Fig. 9). The failure
criteria applied in this case are maximum strain of 0.16
for fracture, sidewall wrinkle amplitude of 0.16 mm [9],
and flange wrinkle amplitude of 0.05 mm [4]. It is seen

Fig. 6. Variable BHF profile versus punch stroke predicted by

adaptive simulation. Fig. 8. Al alloy cup geometry [9].
492 Z.Q. Sheng et al. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 487–494

Table 2
Blank dimensions, material properties, and friction coefficients used
in the simulation of drawing a conical cup from Al alloy [9]

Material AL2008-T4
Blank diameter 158.76 mm/6.25 in.
Blank thickness 1.03 mm/0.041 in.
Flow stress (MPa) r ¼ 528e0:265 [10]
Friction coefficient Punch/blank, 0.25; binder/blank,
0.15; die/blank, 0.15

Fig. 10. The experimental BHF profiles.

interface conditions. The variable BHF profile was sim-

plified and input into the control of the 160 ton
hydraulic press used for conducting the experiments
(Fig. 10, plot A). Due to the press control character-
istics, the BHF profile output exhibits a time delay
(plot B). All the experiments were repeated three times.
As expected, based on the simulation results, the cup
formed with the constant BHF up to 43 mm depth
Fig. 9. Predicted optimum variable BHF profiles for the Al alloy
shows a visible necking area at the bottom corner,
cup geometry.
while the variable BHF profile successfully formed the
cup up to 47 mm depth (see Fig. 11). In addition to the
attempt to suppress growing sidewall wrinkles), while
Cao’s BHF decreases. This is because Cao’s controller increase in obtainable cup depth, the improved part
[13] switched from the wrinkle amplitude control to the quality can be confirmed by measuring the wall thin-
strain control scheme towards the end of the stroke. ning (Figs. 12 and 13). Maximum cup thinning of 31%
was obtained by using the constant BHF, while
maximum thinning was reduced to 26% when the vari-
5. Experiments able BHF profile was applied.
Figs. 12 and 13 show the predicted and measured
Experiments were conducted to draw the AKDQ
thinning distributions along the radial curvilinear dis-
steel conical cups (Fig. 2) using both the optimum con-
stant BHF and the predicted variable BHF profile tance of the conical cups. The predictions agree, in gen-
(Fig. 6). The blank material and dimensions are the eral, with measurements. The discrepancies observed
same as those used in the simulation (Table 1). No may be due to inaccurate values of friction coefficients
lubrication was applied on the sheet, to achieve dry used in the simulations.

Fig. 11. Conical cups formed from AKDQ steel (experiments).

Z.Q. Sheng et al. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 487–494 493

The authors would also like to thank the ESI group

for providing PAM-STAMP 2000 and the subroutine
development library.


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