Sheet Metal Forming/Crimping Simulation in ANSYS

Caner Demirdogen,Ph.D. DANA Corporation, Kalamazoo, MI Hakan Oka, MSc. FIGES, Ltd., Bursa, Turkey Chad Thomas Fleetguard, Inc., Cookeville, TN Tarik Ogut, Ph.D. FIGES, Ltd., Bursa, Turkey
Abstract Crimping is a widely used assembly method to attach a metal fitting (crimp-nut) to a sheet metal structure. This method mechanically locks the fitting and the sheet metal together by means of a crimp die. For some applications, this mechanical joint must be leak proof. For a leak-proof joint, 3-layer-crimp form (fitting flange-sheet metal flange-sheet metal, shown in Figure 11) must be achieved. However, achieving 3- layer crimp form is not easy. It requires the right combination of the flange lengths, sheet metal thickness and most importantly crimp-die profile. Historically, trial and error was the only way to determine these parameters correctly. This used to be a time consuming and expensive process since several prototypes and pilot runs were necessary until the right combination is found. Fortunately some commercial finite element packages are capable of handling contacts, plasticity and large strains and displacements efficiently and accurately. Thus, the computer simulation of such a crimping process is possible now. In this paper, the authors modeled the several combinations of a crimp-nut, a metal shell and a crimp-die in ANSYS 8.0. To obtain the correct stressstrain curve for the already work hardened low carbon steel metal shell, a simple and practical method was developed and used.

How would you attach a steel fitting to a deep-drawn steel can? Welding and brazing were some of the methods used in the past for this purpose. However, the joints produced by these methods were never mechanically consistent and they all required the costly pre and post cleaning operations. Thus, the industry kept searching new methods and finally a crimping process was developed for this purpose. This process is a forming process. It rolls the edge of the machined fitting over the shell flange and locks them together. It requires a machined fitting with a flange, shell with a flange and a crimp die as shown in Figure 1. Important parameters for such a crimp joint are shell flange length, fitting flange length and crimp die profile for a given shell thickness. All these parameters are defined in Figure 1. The right combination of these parameters is to be found by finite element simulations in ANSYS.

Finite Element model
The generic finite element model used for this study is shown in Figure 2. Mid-noded axi-symmetric 2D Plane 183 elements are used to model the shell, fitting and the die. Contact 172, contact 172 elements were used between the shell and the fitting to model contact. Rigid Contact 169 elements were used to model the crimp die and fitting flange interaction. The authors chose the rigid contact since the force exerted on the crimp die was to be extracted from the model and the single anchor point of the rigid contact elements made this process very simple.

Center-line Crimp Die Crimp die Profile

Deep Drawn Steel Shell

Fitting Flange

Machined Steel Fitting (Crimp-nut)

Shell Flange

Figure 1. The components of the crimp joint

Rigid Contact target 169 elements

Work hardened zone

Contact 172 elements

Figure 2. The finite element model

The finite element models required the accurate true stress – true strain curve for shell and fitting materials. The fitting is forged steel. However, the only true stress –true strain curve available in literature for this material was for the rolled condition not for the forged condition. Thus, the authors created a finite element model of the fitting and crimp die only, without the shell, and simulated the crimping process by using the available stress-strain curve for the fitting material. Later on, the real crimp die was manufactured and a fitting was crimped by using this real die. The crimped fitting was sectioned and a digital picture of the section was recorded. Figure 3 shows the real crimped joint cross-section and the ANSYS predicted crosssection. They correlate to each other very well. This was the calibration of the finite element model and the material properties. The model shown in Figure 2 also required the stress-strain curve of the shell material. The shell material is low carbon (1008) steel. However, this material was already work hardened around the flange radius (shown in Figure 2) during the prior deep drawing and flange forming operations. Thus, the stress-strain curve for 1008 steel for the work hardened condition was required for an accurate model and that, unfortunately, was not readily available in literature. Thus, the authors developed a simple and practical method to measure the amount of work hardening in the material first and obtain the stress-strain curve, later. Due to the confidentiality of this information, the detailed step-by-step approach will not be described.

Determining the stress-strain curve for work hardened low carbon steel
Testing of the material showed that 30% pre-strain was the correct value for the flange area under consideration. After performing tensile tests on 10 pre-strained specimens, the true stress – true strain curve for the shell material was obtained. Figure 4 shows the true stress-true strain curve of the work hardened 1008 steel. The scaling on the vertical axes was intentionally deleted due to the confidentiality of this data. This is the material curve used for all of the ANSYS models presented in this paper.

Figure 3. The comparison of real cross-section (shown in solid blue) and the ANSYS model prediction (shown in wire-frame)

58000 53000 STRESS / psi 48000 43000 38000 33000 28000 23000 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 STRAIN 0.2 0.25

Figure 4. The true stress true strain curve of the shell flange radius material

Simulation of the crimping process for different flange lengths and die profile
Figure 5 shows the details of the finite element model used for this study. Six ANSYS models were created to study the effect of different parameters. The list of the models and their corresponding parameters were shown in Table 1. Figure 6 through 12, shows the expected crimp joint cross-section, residual Von Mises stress and the force exerted to the die during the crimping process.


Pivot point of the rigid die with given displacement in ‘–Y’ direction

Constrained in all Directions

Figure 5. The boundary conditions used for the finite element model

Model No

Model name (inch)

Fitting Flange Shell Flange (inch)

1 2 3 4 5 6

Asis021_0305 Asis022_0305 Asis023_0305 Asis022_0355 Asis023_0355 Asis023_0380 with different die profile

0,305 0,305 0,305 0,355 0,355 0,380

0,21 0,22 0,23 0,22 0,23 0,23

Table 1. The list of the ANSYS models

Von Mises stress after spring back

Die load during the crimping process

Figure 6. Model 1: asis021_0305

Kink in the load curve means a nonstable forming process

Von Mises stress after spring back

Die load during the crimping process

Figure 7. Model 2: asis022_0305

Kink in the load curve means a nonstable forming process

Von Mises stress after spring back

Die load during the crimping process

Figure 8. Model 3: asis023_0305

Von Mises stress after spring back

Die load during the crimping process

Figure 9. Model 4: asis022_0355

Von Mises stress after spring back

Die load during the crimping process

Figure 10. Model 5: asis023_0355

Triple layer crimp configuration required for leak proof joint

Figure 11. Model 6: asis023_0380: Von Mises stress after spring back

Figure 12. Model 6: asis023_0380: Die load during the crimping process

In this paper, a method to simulate a crimping process in ANSYS was described. The accuracy of the method was proven by comparing the calculated model results with the real measurements. The effects of fitting flange length, shell flange length and crimp die profile were studied in 6 different models to find the right combination of these parameters. The parameters used in Model 6 are the right parameters for the production since it predicts a 3-layer crimp joint form (important for a leak-tight joint) and a smoothly increasing die load (important for consistent forms). Models 2 and 3, Figures 7 and 8, predicts a step change in the die load during the crimp-process. This usually is an indication for a possible buckling state during the crimping process. Since buckling is an unstable state of the structure, the parameters used for models 2 and 3 should not be selected for production. By using this simulation method, one can also study the effect of tolerances to crimp joint form and die load. ANSYS 8.0 is a very capable finite element software package, which can handle contact, plasticity, and large deflection nonlinearities very accurately as shown in this paper. Thus, forming processes can easily and accurately be modeled in ANSYS.

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