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Composite Control Arm Design: A Comprehensive Workflow

Journal Article
ISSN: 2641-9645, e-ISSN: 2641-9645
Published April 06, 2021 by SAE International in United States
Composite Control Arm Design: A Comprehensive Workflow
Citation: Carello, M., de Carvalho Pinheiro, H., Messana, A., Freedman, A. et al., "Composite Control Arm Design: A Comprehensive Workflow," SAE Int. J. Adv. & Curr. Prac. in Mobility 3(5):2355-2369, 2021,
Language: English


This paper presents a complete overview of the computational design of an advanced suspension control arm constructed of composite material for light weighting purposes. The proposed methodology presented in detail is split into 3 phases. Phase 1 or Vehicle Performance Simulation, in which basic modelling and a sensibility study is performed to better understand the advantages of unsprung mass reduction (compared to sprung mass reduction) with respect to the vehicle’s vertical dynamics. It followed by the development and utilization of a multibody approach to evaluate the full-vehicle response to different dynamic maneuvers, such as harsh road imperfections, sine sweep steering, and double lane change tests. The impact of the improved suspension control arm is highlighted in detail, and the loads to which it is subjected are computed to serve as inputs for the successive phases. Phase 2 or Design and Calculation Phase, where a closer look is given to the structural side of the component, understanding the specific behavior of composite materials and performing modelling of the control arm, followed by fine tuning with Finite Element Method optimization techniques. This phase consists of a topology optimization, followed by composite topography free size, size, and shuffle optimizations to arrive upon the ideal part-layup, and guarantee the desired mechanical characteristics of the component. Lastly, Phase 3 or the Production Preparation closes the design process by generating the production processes, steps, constraints, and tooling for the correct realization of the innovative control arm in a real-world application. The tools presented in this paper were created to allow the design to be completed rapidly, thus defining a blueprint for a full workflow, from engineering request to product delivery, which can be applied to different vehicles and customer requests, representing an essential step forward to the consolidation of the use of composite materials for structural suspension components.