Manufacturing and Testing of Composite Hybrid Leaf Spring for Automotive Applications

2019-08-12T18:12:46Z (GMT) by Himal Agrawal
Leaf springs are a part of the suspension system attached between the axle and the chassis of the vehicle to support weight and provide shock absorbing capacity of the vehicle. For more than half a century the leaf springs are being made of steel which increases the weight of the vehicle and is prone to rusting and failure. The current study explores the feasibility of composite leaf spring to reduce weight by designing, manufacturing and testing the leaf spring for the required load cases. An off the shelf leaf spring of Ford F-150 is chosen for making of composite hybrid spring prototype. The composite hybrid prototype was made by replacing all the leaves with glass fiber unidirectional laminate except the first leaf. Fatigue tests are then done on steel and composite hybrid leaf spring to observe the failure locations and mechanism if any. High frequency fatigue tests were then done on composite beams with varying aspect ratio in a displacement-controlled mode to observe fatigue location and mechanism of just glass fiber composite laminate. It was observed that specimens with low aspect ratio failed from crack propagation initiated from stress concentrations at the loading tip in 3-point cyclic flexure test and shear forces played a dominant role in propagation of crack. Specimens with high aspect ratio under the same loading did not fail in cyclic loading and preserved the same stiffness as before the cyclic loading. The preliminary fatigue results for high aspect ratio composite beams predict a promising future for multi-leaf composite springs.