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Developing polymer composite-based leaf spring systems for automotive industry
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Composite-based mono-leaf spring systems were designed and manufactured to replace existing mono-leaf metal leaf spring in a light commercial vehicle. In this study, experimentally obtained mechanical properties of different fiber-reinforced polymer materials are presented first, followed by the description of the finite element analytical model created in Abaqus 6.12-1 (Dassault Systemes Simulia Corp., RI, US) using the obtained properties. The results from the finite element analysis are presented next and compared with actual size experimental tests conducted on manufactured prototypes. The results demonstrated that the reinforcement type and orientation dramatically influenced the spring rate. The prototypes showed significant weight reduction of about 80% with improved mechanical properties. The hybrid composite systems can be utilized for composite-based leaf springs with considerable mechanical performance.