Design and fabrication of a granular media testing instrument and experimental determination of granular media flow behavior under static and oscillating normal loads
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An interest in vehicle efficiency improvement drives a need for research in the field of light metal alloys. Current industrially-available technologies do not include warm-forming of metal alloy sheet materials. The obstacles to the technology may be potentially overcome with granular media, which could be used as an alternative force transfer medium. However, some granular material properties like force chain formation require further investigation before forming technology using granular media may be developed. Throughout the course of this study, a direct shear cell instrument was designed and fabricated. This instrument was used to measure the basic mechanical properties of granular media. A 3D CAD model of the direct shear cell instrument and operating procedures are presented in this study. Different granular materials, such as steel bearing balls and sand, were tested under conditions simulating granular media flow behavior expected for the working medium in warm-forming of metal alloys sheet materials. The experiments were conducted under both static and oscillating normal loads. The static load experiments were conducted for various normal loads and shear rates, and oscillating normal load experiments were conducted under various oscillation frequencies, average normal loads and load amplitudes. During dense-packed spherical granular media flow experiments, shear stress oscillations were observed. These are attributed to the force-chain jamming behavior occurring within the granular media structure. It was also observed that granular media flow properties can be controlled by an oscillating normal load applied to the granular media. From the experimental and simulation studies it may be concluded that normal load oscillations should enhance granular media flow, which could be a great advantage for using granular media as working fluid for sheet metal forming.