Formability and hydroforming of anisotropic aluminum tubes
MetadataShow full item record
The automotive industry is required to meet improved fuel efficiency standards and stricter emission controls. Aluminum tube hydroforming is particularly well suited in meeting the goals of lighter, more fuel-efficient and less polluting cars. Its wider use in industry is hindered however by the reduced ductility and more complex constitutive behavior of aluminum in comparison to the steels that it is meant to replace. This study aims to address these issues by improving the understanding of the limitations of the process as applied to aluminum alloys. A series of hydroforming experiments were conducted in a custom testing facility, designed and constructed for the purposes of this project. At the same time, several levels of modeling of the process, of increasing complexity, were developed. A comparison of these models to the experiments revealed a serious deficiency in predicting burst, which was found experimentally to be one of the main limiting factors of the process. This discrepancy between theory and experiment was linked to the adoption of the von Mises yield function for the material at hand. This prompted a separate study, combining experiments and analysis, to calibrate alternative, non-quadratic anisotropic yield functions and assess their performance in predicting burst. The experiments involved testing tubes under combined internal pressure and axial load to failure using various proportional and non-proportional loading paths (free inflation). A number of state of the art yield functions were then implemented in numerical models of these experiments and calibrated to reproduce the induced strain paths and failure strains. The constitutive models were subsequently employed in the finite element models of the hydroforming experiments. The results demonstrate that localized wall thinning in the presence of contact, as it occurs in hydroforming as well as other sheet metal forming problems, is a fully 3D process requiring appropriate modeling with solid elements. This success also required the use of non-quadratic yield functions in the constitutive modeling, although the anisotropy present did not play as profound a role as it did in the simulation of the free inflation experiments. In addition, corresponding shell element calculations were deficient in capturing this type of localization that precipitates failure, irrespective of the sophistication of the constitutive model adopted. This finding contradicts current practice in modeling of sheet metal forming, where the thin-walled assumption is customarily adopted.