Getting a Quick Read on Durability with the Intrinsic Strength Analyser

There is now a one-hour test on a benchtop instrument for the rubber lab to screen materials for long-term fatigue performance. Please continue reading to learn more about this commercialization of a classical elastomer characterization methodology.

Rubber products manufacturers and raw materials suppliers seeking improved materials for next-generation applications depend on lab tests to predict end-use performance. These predictive tests should balance accuracy, relevance, and testing time. The testing time component is particularly challenging when the performance characteristic of interest is fatigue lifetime. The image of traditional fatigue testers chattering along for days or weeks comes to mind for those of us with experience in industrial rubber labs. The time consideration is the reason why tensile stress-strain testing (stretching a material to high strains until failure) is the most common physical test for the fracture behavior of rubber, in clear contrast to the most prevalent application condition for rubber products which is cyclic loading (fatigue) at much lower strains.

Fatigue crack growth is a key element of elastomer behavior that must be determined in order to predict durability, as illustrated below. For example, fatigue crack growth (FCG) testing provides the FCG rate law that is essential for predicting when and where cracks will show up in rubber products using Endurica’s elastomer fatigue software for finite element analysis [https://endurica.com/integrated-durability-solutions-for-elastomers/]. Endurica has developed a finitely scoped, reduced variability measurement approach1 which is used in our Fatigue Property Mapping testing services and is available on the Coesfeld Tear and Fatigue Analyser (TFA). Our standard FCG measurement protocol takes 20 hours of continuous testing. This testing time is very efficient for characterizing best candidate materials in the development process, but a faster test is needed for narrowing down, for example, 20 initial materials to 5 best candidates or for use in a plant lab to monitor quality of rubber compounding processes.

The Intrinsic Strength Analyser (ISA) is a recent addition to the durability testing solutions for elastomers. The ISA was developed through a partnership between Coesfeld GmbH & Co. (Dortmund, Germany) and Endurica LLC (Findlay, OH, USA), and this benchtop instrument employs a testing protocol based on the long-established cutting method of Lake and Yeoh.3,4 Endurica’s president, Dr. Will Mars, discusses the importance of measuring intrinsic strength (fatigue threshold) in this video on our YouTube channel which also shows some footage of the ISA in operation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BL92ppsJZfE

The fatigue crack growth curve of rubbery materials is bounded by the fatigue threshold, T0, on the low tearing energy (T) side and by the critical tearing energy (tear strength), Tc, at the high-T end. This is depicted in the generalized figure below. A streamlined one-hour procedure on the ISA can measure both T0 and Tc which can then be used to estimate the slope (F) of the intermediate FCG power law response that correlates well with the actual F from rigorous FCG testing using the TFA (see figure). More information about this quick ISA approach to characterizing rubber crack growth behavior for materials development and quality control can be found in the Annual Review 2019 issue of Tire Technology International (open access).2

The fatigue crack growth slope, F, from the ISA should be considered an approximate value that is useful for comparing the relative FCG behavior of materials. However, the determination of T0 on the ISA is highly quantitative and the only realistic option for assessing this parameter, since the near-threshold crack growth testing on the TFA needed to define T0 would take about a month. The implementation areas for the ISA and TFA are compared in the following table. A very conservative approach to product development for elastomer durability is to create a combination of material behavior and component design that places the final operation of the rubber product below the fatigue threshold. If this is your company’s approach to engineering for durability, then the ISA is the testing instrument you need.

Crack precursor size is another key characteristic of elastomers that needs to be quantified in order to predict durability. In combination with a standard tensile stress-strain test, the critical tearing energy (Tc) from the ISA can also be used to assess crack precursor size, as we showed recently in an open access publication.5

Endurica is the exclusive Americas distributor of the Coesfeld ISA and TFA instruments. Endurica’s efficient and effective testing protocols are provided on these high-quality instruments for the rubber laboratory. To learn more about how to add these testing capabilities to your lab, please contact me at cgrobertson@endurica.com.

References

  1. J. R. Goossens and W. V. Mars, “Finitely Scoped, High Reliability Fatigue Crack Growth Measurements”, Rubber Chem. Technol. 91, 644 (2018).
  2. C. G. Robertson, R. Stoček, R. Kipscholl, and W. V. Mars, “Characterizing Durability of Rubber for Tires”, Tire Technology International, Annual Review 2019, pp. 78-82.
  3. G. J. Lake and O. H. Yeoh, “Measurement of Rubber Cutting Resistance in the Absence of Friction”, International Journal of Fracture 14, 509 (1978).
  4. C. G. Robertson, R. Stoček, C. Kipscholl, and W. V. Mars, “Characterizing the Intrinsic Strength (Fatigue Threshold) of Natural Rubber/Butadiene Rubber Blends”, Tire Sci. Technol. 47, 292 (2019).
  5. C. G. Robertson, L. B. Tunnicliffe, L. Maciag, M. A. Bauman, K. Miller, C. R. Herd, and W. V. Mars, “Characterizing Distributions of Tensile Strength and Crack Precursor Size to Evaluate Filler Dispersion Effects and Reliability of Rubber”, Polymers 12, 203 (2020).
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Will Mars on the Rubber Industry: A Look Back 10 Years, Where We Are Now, A Look Ahead 10 Years

Q: With regards to fatigue life prediction methods, where was the rubber industry 10 years ago?

Will There was plenty of great academic work and good understanding of fundamentals, but the methods were only deployed – if at all – via “homebuilt” solutions that could never support a broad enough audience to really impact daily product design decisions.  Simulation methods and experimental methods shared theoretical foundations but they were poorly integrated.  They suffered from operational problems, noisy data and open-ended test duration.  It was possible to analyze a crack if you could mesh it, but the added bookkeeping and convergence burdens were usually not sustainable in a production engineering context.  Mostly, analysts relied on tradition-based crack nucleation approaches that would look at quantities like strain or stress or strain energy density.  These were not very accurate and they were limiting in many ways, even though they were widely used.  They left companies very dependent on build and break iterations.

Q: Where is the industry today?

Will: The early adopters of our solutions have been off and running now for a number of years.  Our critical plane method has gained recognition for its high accuracy when dealing with multiaxial cases, cases involving crack closure, cases involving strain crystallization.  Our testing methods have gained recognition for high reliability and throughput.  Our users are doing production engineering with our tools.  They are consistently winning on durability issues.  They are handling durability issues right up front when they bid for new business.  They are expanding their in-house labs to increase testing capacity and they are winning innovation awards from OEMs.  They are using actual road-load cases from their customers to design light-weight, just-right parts that meet durability requirements.  The automotive industry has lead adoption but aerospace, tires, energy, and consumer products are also coming up.  We have users across the entire supply chain: raw material suppliers, component producers and OEMs.  The huge value that was locked up because durability was previously so difficult to manage is now unlocked in new ways for the first time.  This has been the wind in Endurica’s sails for the last 10 years.

Q: Where do you see the industry in 10 years?

Will: In 10 years, OEMs will expect durability from all component producers on day 1, even for radical projects.  They will expect designs already optimized for cost and weight.  They will push more warrantee responsibility to the supplier.  They will monitor durability requirements via shared testing and simulation workflows.  Suppliers will pitch solutions using characterization and simulation to show their product working well in your product.  The design and selection of rubber compounds to match applications will enter a golden age as real-world customer usage conditions will finally be taken fully into account.  Where design and selection was previously limited by the budget for a few build and break iterations, and low visibility of design options, they will soon be informed by an almost unlimited evaluation of all possibilities.  Where simulation methods have traditionally had greatest impact on product design functions, we will also start to see rubber part Digital Twins that track damage accumulation and create value in the operational functions of a business.  Durability is definitely set to become a strong arena for competition in the next 10 years.

 

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Integrated Durability Solutions for Elastomers

Will the durability of your new rubber product meet the expectations of your customers? 

Do you have a comprehensive capability that fully integrates all of the disciplines required to efficiently achieve a targeted durability spec?

Your engineers use finite element analysis (FEA) to model the elastomer component in the complex geometry and loading cycle for the desired product application.  One traditional approach to predicting durability is to develop a rough estimate of lifetime by looking at maximum principal strain or stress in relation to strain-life or stress-life fatigue curves obtained for the material using lab specimens in simple tension.  The difficulties and uncertainties with this method were discussed in a recent blog post.

 

A modern approach to elastomer durability is to use the Endurica CL™ durability solver for FEA.  This software uses rubber fracture mechanics principles and critical plane analysis to calculate the fatigue lifetime – which is the number of times the complex deformation cycle can be repeated before failure – for every element of the model.  This provides engineers with the ability to view lifetime throughout the FEA mesh, allowing them to modify design features or make material changes as needed to resolve short-lifetime areas.

A sound finite element model of the elastomer product in the specified loading situation and fundamental fatigue material parameters from our Fatigue Property Mapping™ testing methods are the two essential inputs to the Endurica CL software.  This is illustrated in the figure below.

The requisite elastomer characterization methods can be conducted by us through our testing services or by you in your laboratory with our testing instruments.  For some companies, consulting projects are a route to taking advantage of the software before deciding to license the unique predictive capabilities.  The following diagram shows how our products and services are integrated.

For companies that are just getting started with implementing our durability solutions, the following is a typical testing services and consulting project:

  1. We use our Fatigue Property Mapping™ testing methods, through our collaboration with Axel Products Physical Testing Services, to characterize the properties of cured sheets of rubber compounds sent to us by the client. The minimum requirements for fatigue modeling are crack precursor size and crack growth rate law, and these are quantified within our Core Fatigue Module.  Special effects like strain-induced crystallization and aging/degradation are accounted for using other testing modules when applicable.
  2. The client sends us the output files from their finite element analysis (FEA) of their elastomer part design for the deformation of their complex loading cycle. It is common for the goal to be a comparison of either two designs, two distinct loading profiles, two different rubber compounds, or combinations of these variations.  Our software is fully compatible with Abaqus™, ANSYS™, and MSC Marc™, so the simulations can be conducted on any of these FEA platforms.  In some situations where a client does not have their own FEA capabilities, one of Endurica’s engineers will set up the models and perform the analyses instead.
  3. The fatigue parameters and FEA model are inputted to Endurica CL fatigue solver to calculate values of the fatigue lifetime for every element of the model. The lifetime results are then mapped back onto the finite element mesh in Abaqus, ANSYS, or MSC Marc so that the problem areas (short lifetime regions) within the geometry can be highlighted.
  4. We review the results with the client and discuss any opportunities for improving the fatigue performance through design and material changes.

Advanced implementors of our durability solutions have licensed the Endurica CL software and are using our rubber characterization methods in their laboratories on a routine basis, with instruments provided through our partnership with Coesfeld GmbH & Co. (Germany).  One recently publicized example of a company using the Endurica approach to a very high degree is Tenneco Inc., which you can read about here.

We want to help you #GetDurabilityRight, so please contact me at cgrobertson@endurica.com if you would like to know more about how Endurica’s modern integrated durability solutions for elastomers can help enable a product development path that is faster, less expensive, and more confident.

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