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Designing Space Frame Race Car Chassis Structure

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Frequencies Data from Ansys Mode Shape Analysis

Mohammad Al Bukhari Marzuki

Mechanical Engineering Department

Sultan Azlan Shah Polytechnic

Behrang Stesyen, 35950 Behrang

mohammad@psas.edu.my

Mechanical Engineering Department

Sultan Azlan Shah Polytechnic

Behrang Stesyen, 35950 Behrang

mohd_arzo@psas.edu.my

Mechanical Engineering Department

Sultan Azlan Shah Polytechnic

Behrang Stesyen, 35950 Behrang

firdaus_azmi@psas.deu.my

Abstract

Designing and fabricating space frame chassis structure requires a certain set of knowledge

especially in design, material selection and metal joining and fabrication which will result in rigid,

sturdy and competitive chassis design. The outcome of the design will reflect the success of chassis

especially if the chassis design is used for racing competition. This study focuses on the analysing

the initial chassis design using mode shape analysis and the mode shape frequencies and

characteristic produced from the analysis are studied. The modelling and the finite element model

of the chassis structure are carried out using coordinate system in ANSYS Design Modeller and

ANSYS APDL Version 13 respectively. The main objective of this analysis is to establish the natural

frequency and mode shape characteristic corresponds to the natural frequency from the chassis

structure to ensure that the ride comfort is beyond the unhealthy frequency range. Result from the

study can be used to study the dynamic behaviour and to improvise the overall dynamic response

of the chassis structure.

Key Terms:

1.

Introduction

Car racing competition usually involved in racing driver race each other, either

competing who gets the fastest time or who complete the course first. Car racing comes in

several category which include opened-wheel Formula Series, production car Rally Series,

highly modified production car Japan GT Series and a few other car-based racing competition

which being held locally and internationally. In opened-wheel car racing competition divided

into a number of levels, this may include entry level kart racing and highly advance Formula 1

Championship. There are also racing competition tailored made for university or college student

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can participate. Among the well-known university level race car competition are Formula SAE,

organised by the Society of Automotive Engineers and Formula Student, organised by the

Institute of Mechanical Engineers UK. Locally, there are also a number of competitions for the

local universities student can take part, the majority of the competition are organised by a

university and also car manufacturers in Malaysia, i.e. PROTON and PERODUA. Most of the local

racing competition loosely based on the Formula SAE standard and the regulation are modified

to suit local competition requirements. The chassis structure specification for this study is based

on regulation of UniMAP-MODENAS Racing Challenge specification which only allowed the

participant to construct a space frame race car platform. The advantages of using space frame

chassis construction are the mass of the structure is lesser and cost effective than other types of

chassis but due to complicated manufacturing process, space frame chassis platform is only

used for high performance and niche market cars.

The main chassis structure is divided into several segments, which are the Main Hoop,

Front Hoop, Side Impact Protection and Crush Zone. The Main and Front Hoop is tasked to

protect the driver in the event if the car rolls over. The Main Hoop protects the upper part of the

drivers body while the Front Hoop protects the drivers arm and hand if rollover occurs. As for

the Side Impact Protection section, this section is created to protect the driver from side in the

event of any collision from the either side of the car. As part of the chassis, the Crush Zone is

located at foremost section of the chassis. This section is specially made to absorb energy in case

of a head-on collision. The main sections of the chassis are illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: An example of space frame race car chassis structure based on Formula SAE specification

The dynamic behaviour is one of the important aspects in designing a car. Dynamic

characteristic of a structure can be analysed either through modal or harmonic analysis which

can be carried out from experiment or simulation. In reference to He et al. (2001), the car

chassis is tested experimentally by suspending the chassis structure with springs to simulate

free-free boundary condition and the chassis is excited using a shaker so that the mode shape of

the chassis can be derived. Experimental modal analysis studied by Wenlin et al. (2010) utilised

Land-Wind X6 chassis to study the dynamic behaviour through modal analysis. The tests are

conducted using data acquisition system and an input hammer which generated eleven mode

shapes with the frequency below 150Hz and later verified with Modal Assurance Criteria (MAC)

method for data validation. Another notable experimental modal analysis is conducted by

Naveen et al. (2014). The result illustrated from two wheeler chassis derived from Operation

Deflection Shape (ODS) analysis produced 6 experimental mode shapes, which includes torsion,

lateral bending and vertical bending in different modes. The result from Naveen et al (2014)

later can be used for further strengthening the chassis to minimise the deflection caused by

natural frequencies.

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structure where the rigidity of the structure can be analysed and the resonance vibration could

be avoided. There are several software that can be used to analyse dynamic characteristic,

computer-based finite element analyses ANSYS APDL is one of the commercial computational

aided engineering software that extract mode shapes from chassis structure. Dynamic

characteristic response can be obtained using variety of vibration and structural design

analyses method accessible in the software as explained by N. Lin et al. (2012) and Wang et al.

(2010). A further study by Riley (2002) utilising computational method, a tubular frame car

chassis produced four different mode shapes which are all below 15Hz and the displacement of

every mode shape is recorded for chassis improvement purposes. Modal analysis also can be

used to determine the human response against structure vibration. A research conducted by

Nissar (2003), presented a result from motorcycle chassis mode shape analysis showed that

large displacement at handlebar position could cause the rider discomfort and the first two

frequencies obtained lies in the human discomfort region (0-100 Hz). Thus, Nissar (2003)

conclude that further study and improvement is needed to bring the motorcycle chassis

vibration within the human comfort zone. In the ISO 2631-1 state that the frequency range

consideration for health and comfort is between 0.5 Hz to 80 Hz which in relation to human

health and comfort, the probability of vibration perception and the incidence of motion sickness

as stated in a study lead by Agostoni (2009).

Although there are various studies on car chassis structure vibration analysis both in

experimentation and simulation, but most of the research are not fully address modal analysis

specifically on space frame race car chassis for students race competition. Apart from that, the

ride and comfort of the race car driver usually is not being take care of and winning the

competition or race is the only motivation for any particular racing team. Therefore, the

purpose of this study is to design a space frame race car chassis structure based on the natural

frequencies and shape characteristic obtained from the mode shape analysis simulated using

ANSYS software package. The study is performed as a first step to improve vibrational

characteristics of the initial chassis structure design and to ensure that the natural frequencies

are beyond the human unhealthy and discomfort frequency range.

2.

The race car chassis is designed and fabricated according to the Formula SAE design

criteria as stated in the UniMAP-MODENAS Racing Challenge 2014 Regulation. There are three

types of tube frame specification is used in the chassis, with all the different specification are

intended for the specific purposes of the chassis structure. A 27 mm diameter tube with wall

thickness of 2 mm is used for both hoops construction. Other tube frame construction such as

the side beam and front beam is constructed by using a 25 mm with 1.6 mm wall thickness tube

as shown in Figure 2. The thicker tube is selected for both hoops sections since it withstand any

rolling impact in case the car rolls over. The wishbone which is assumed as not part of the

chassis construction since it is not permanently fixed to the chassis structure. The entire tube

specifications and thicknesses are entered to the section geometry data (SECDATA) option in

the ANSYS APDL.

Page 3

Figure 2: The complete fabricated race car chassis structure complete with wishbones

The material selected for the chassis construction is based on the rules and regulations

required by the race organiser. In the regulation, there is a single type of material that can be

used for constructing the car chassis, which is ferrous material. For the analysis purposes, steel

is selected with the material properties include material density of 7860 kg/m 2, a Poissons

Ratio of 0.3, and Youngs Modulus of 200 GPa.

The finite element model in ANSYS APDL is assumed to be made from tube frame in

which PIPE288 element is selected to represent the chassis structure. PIPE288 element is

chosen because the element is suitable for analysing short pipe structures which based on the

Timoshenko beam theory with shear deformation effect are included (ANSYS, 2010). PIPE288 is

a 3-D linear, quadratic two-noded pipe element which has six degrees of freedom, making the

element suited for linear, large rotation and strain nonlinear application (ANSYS, 2010) as

shown in Figure X (element pic). Key point is created by using the dimension according to the

actual chassis construction and then the key points created are connected using lines option and

the lines are meshed using mesh tool in ANSYS APDL. The model is meshed using mapped

element with equivalent mesh size on every line. A total of 5875 nodes and 5900 elements are

created. The total number of nodes and elements created are sufficient to produce an acceptable

result, the simplified finite element meshed model is illustrated in Figure 3 - 6.

Figure 3: Isometric view of the simplified race car chassis model in ANSYS APDL interface

Page 4

Figure 4: The main hoop, protects the driver during roll over

Figure 6: Rear section, housing the engine and transmission of the race car

There are no weight is carried by the chassis, therefore there are no loads are applied in

ANSYS vibration analysis with all degree of freedom are free to evaluate the natural response of

the chassis structure. For the analysis purposes, damping coefficient is ignored for modal

analysis.

3.

Transform (FFT), which is widely used in analysing structural dynamic especially in automotive

design and engineering field to establish vibration characteristic i.e. mode shape, natural

Page 5

frequencies of vehicle model (Mehdi et al., 2014). The equation of motion for undamped system

is formulated from;

(1)

Where m, q and k is the constant which describe the mass, displacement and stiffness of

the system and Equation (1) equal to zero if there is no force applied to the system. q is

displacement for a linear system, which in harmonic form will be;

(2)

Where

(3)

The solution from Equation (3) gives Eigen values, which is the square root of the

natural frequencies and the Eigen vectors are the amplitude of the corresponding natural

frequencies. The natural frequencies gathered from the modal analysis can be used to provide

information on critical mounting points for vibration sourced component i.e. engine,

transmission, suspension system, electric motors and etc.

Block Lanczos method is selected to analyse the mode shape from the structure. Block

Lanczos method has been widely used in studies for extracting mode shapes and natural

frequencies in a structure (Wang Hai-fei et al. 2014, Rao et al. 2014, Samrudhi et al. 2014). Five

mode shapes is selected in the mode shape extraction option in ANSYS. Five mode shapes is

assumed to be adequate since the most important result from modal analysis is the first-five

mode shapes as it represents the lower range of natural frequencies of the race car chassis. End

frequency of the analysis is selected at a maximum of 1000Hz where these options enable

ANSYS APDL to search the mode shape of the car chassis from 0Hz to 1000Hz and will stop

searching beyond the stipulated range. A simple single axis support is applied at the 4 point

where the bracket holding the both right and left, front and rear wishbone to simulate the

chassiss actual resting position.

4.

This study utilises Modal Analysis to generate the natural frequencies and mode shapes

of the space frame chassis structure. Result from Modal Analysis is important as it can predict

the response of structural parameters under dynamic loading condition. Mode shapes simulated

from Modal Analysis can provide the information of how the chassis structure will naturally

displace. ANSYS APDL Mechanical is used as pre-processor, solver and post-processor for the

modal analysis. Utilising Block Lanczos method, 5 mode shapes are obtained between 0 - 1000

Hz range. Table 1 illustrates the first five natural frequencies for the corresponding mode shape

which are important to the study. Mode shapes frequencies and characteristic are tabulated in

Table 2.

Page 6

Table 1 outlines the first natural frequency for the chassis is at approximately 150.39

Hz. The mode shape of the race car structure is critical because resonance usually occurs in

these frequencies. The second modal frequency is vibrated at 203.15 Hz, the third modal

frequency vibrated at 389.10 Hz, fourth modal frequency at 515.66 Hz and the last modal

frequency within 0 - 1000 Hz range vibrated at 759.38 Hz.

Page 7

Mode Shape

Frequency (Hz)

1

2

3

4

5

150.39

203.15

389.10

515.66

759.38

Rear section downward bending along Y-axis

Torsional in middle section

Bending in middle and rear section

Torsional in front section

Torsional at rear and bending at front section

The 5 mode shapes are produced by ANSYS illustrates different modal frequency

characteristic. The first mode shape generated a bending behaviour, occurred at the rear section

of the chassis. If the bending behaviour is animated in ANSYS, it produced a flapping-like

animation resembling a bird flapping its wing, as called by Wenlin et al. (2010). The result from

ANSYS solver shows large deformation caused by the modal frequencies and can be magnified,

that in so doing, any small or large deformation can be seen in the result.

5.

The mode shapes produced from the modal analysis illustrates that different frequency

on each mode shape produced different reaction behaviour. The reaction characteristics include

torsional, bending and combination of torsional and bending. It is important to identify the

mode shape characteristic and the displacement caused by the natural frequencies. It is known

that if vibration caused by external excitation is similar to that of the natural frequencies, this

will result in deflection in the chassis structure. The highest deflection recorded by the Modal

Analysis is located in the third mode shape, with a displacement of 0.375 mm. The response of

the race car chassis structure in the third mode shape is bending behaviour in both middle and

rear section. The highest displacement of the race car chassis structure is located at the side

impact protection sub-frame as shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12: The highest displacement of the race car chassis structure

The side impact protection sub-frame displaced 0.375 mm from its original position

which is the highest shape deformation recorded from the mode shape analysis. High

deformation located at the side impact protection sub-frame is due to lack of support between

the front-end and back-end joint of the frame. This can be improved by mounting a cross

Page 8

member frame at the side impact sub-frame to minimise the displacement at the specified area

as illustrated in Figure 12.

6.

Conclusion

The Modal Analysis generates 5 mode shapes, extracted from Block Lanczos method

with the simulated natural frequencies ranging from 150 Hz to 1000 Hz. The first mode shape

recorded the lowest frequency at 150 Hz, which is considered as safe and comfortable for

human application as explained by Nissar (2003). The natural frequencies generated from the

Modal Analysis also are far-off from any critical external source of excitation which is ranging

from 0 Hz to 100 Hz. At this frequency range, the race car chassis structure is likely to be force

exited from external source of vibration i.e. road surfaces, engine unbalance cycle and

transmission vibration. The highest frequency produce by the chassis structure is in fifth mode

shape, vibrated at 759.39 Hz. The fifth mode shape is located at higher frequency range and will

not affected by external nor other source of vibration likely in a car.

The natural frequency in the third mode shape is recorded at 389.10 Hz and a

displacement of 0.375 mm. This frequency caused the highest displacement to the race car

chassis structure. This phenomenon is known as resonance and at this frequency it is likely the

chassis structure will experience excessive displacement and leading to failure. Due to

resonance frequency is vibrated at higher frequency range, therefore it is unlikely that any

external forced vibrational excitation ranging from 0 Hz to 100 Hz could caused resonance

frequency to the chassis structure. To deal with the displacement caused by the frequency,

improvement can be made by mounting a cross member frame on the both side of the chassis

sub-frame, although, the amount of the displacement is considered small. The overall dynamic

characteristic produced is considered safe for human application and adequate to be used in

racing circuits based on the analysis. In general, the result produced from Modal Analysis is vital

in finding the dynamic response of the race car chassis structure. The findings can be utilised as

an initial data before it can be validated from Harmonic Analysis and experimentally.

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