Torsional Stiffness Calculation of CFRP Hybrid Chassis using Finite Element Method : Development of calculation methodology of Formula Student CFRP Chassis
Abstract: Composite sandwich structures are being used in the automotive and aerospace industries at an increasing rate due to their high strength and stiffness per unit weight. Many teams in the world’s largest engineering competition for students, Formula Student, have embraced these types of structures and are using them in their chassis with the intent of increasing the torsional stiffness per unit weight. The Formula Student team at Karlstad University, Clear River Racing, has since 2017 successfully built three carbon fiber based sandwich structure chassis. A big challenge when designing this type of chassis is the lack of strategy regarding torsional stiffness simulations. Thus, the goal of this thesis project was to provide the organization with a set of accurate yet relatively simple methods of modelling and simulating the torsional stiffness of the chassis. The first step in achieving the goal of the thesis was the implementation of simplifications to the material model. These simplifications were mainly targeted towards the aluminum honeycomb core. In order to cut computational times and reduce complexity, a continuum model with orthotropic material properties was used instead of the intricate cellular structure of the core. To validate the accuracy of this simplification, the in-plane elastic modulus of the core was simulated in the finite element software Abaqus. The stiffness obtained through simulations was 0.44 % larger than the theoretical value. The conclusion was therefore made that the orthotropic continuum model was an accurate and effective representation of the core. Furthermore, simplifications regarding the adhesive film in the core-carbon fiber interfaces were made by using constraints in Abaqus instead of modelling the adhesive films as individual parts. To validate this simplification and the overall material model for the sandwich structure, a three-point bend test was simulated in Abaqus and conducted physically. The stiffness for the sandwich panel obtained through physical testing was 2.4 % larger than the simulated stiffness. The conclusion was made that the simplifications in the material modelling did not affect the accuracy in a significant way. Finally, the torsional stiffness of the 2020 CFRP chassis was found to be 12409.75 Nm/degree. In addition to evaluating previously mentioned simplifications, this thesis also serves as a comprehensive guide on how the modelling of the chassis and how the three-point bend test can take place in regards to boundary conditions, coordinate system assignments and layup definitions.
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