Blog, homepage-featured-top, main-blog, Roll Forming
Roll Forming takes a flat sheet or strip and feeds it longitudinally through a mill containing several successive paired roller dies, each of which incrementally bend the strip into the desired final shape. The incremental approach can minimize strain localization and compensate for springback. Therefore, roll forming is well suited for generating many complex shapes from Advanced High-Strength Steels, especially from those grades with low total elongation such as martensitic steel. The following video, kindly provided by Shape Corp.S-104, highlights the process which can produce either open or closed (tubular) sections.
The number of pairs of rolls depends on the sheet metal grade, finished part complexity, and the design of the roll forming mill. A roll forming mill used for bumpers may have as many as 30 pairs of roller dies mounted on individually driven horizontal shafts.A-32
Roll forming is one of the few sheet metal forming processes requiring only one primary mode of deformation. Unlike most forming operations which have various combinations of forming modes, the roll forming process is nothing more than a carefully engineered series of bends. In roll forming, metal thickness does not change appreciably except for a slight thinning at the bend radii.
Roll forming is appropriate for applications requiring high-volume production of long lengths of complex sections held to tight dimensional tolerances. The continuous process involves coil feeding, roll forming and cutting to length. Notching, slotting, punching, embossing, and curving combine with contour roll forming to produce finished parts off the exit end of the roll forming mill. In fact, companies directly roll form automotive door beam impact bars to the appropriate sweep and only need to weld on mounting brackets prior to shipment to the vehicle assembly line.A-32 Figure 1 shows example automotive applications that are ideal for the roll forming process.
Figure 1: Body components that are ideally suited for roll-forming.
Roll forming can produce AHSS parts with:
- Steels of all levels of mechanical properties and different microstructures.
- Small radii depending on the thickness and mechanical properties of the steel.
- Reduced number of forming stations compared with lower strength steel.
However, the high sheet-steel strength means that forces on the rollers and frames in the roll forming mill are higher. A rule of thumb says that the force is proportional to the strength and thickness squared. Therefore, structural strength ratings of the roll forming equipment must be checked to avoid bending of the shafts. The value of minimum internal radius of a roll formed component depends primarily on the thickness and the tensile strength of the steel (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Achievable minimum r/t values for bending and roll forming for different strength and types of steel.S-5
As seen in Figure 2, roll forming allows smaller radii than a bending process. Figure 3 compares CR1150/1400-MS formed with air-bending and roll forming. Bending requires a minimum 3T radius, but roll forming can produce 1T bends.S-30
Figure 3: CR1150/1400-MS (2 mm thick) has a minimum bend radius of 3T, but can be roll formed to a 1T radius.S-30
The main parameters having an influence on the springback are the radius of the component, the sheet thickness, and the strength of the steel. As expected, angular change increases for increased tensile strength and bend radius (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Angular change increases with increasing tensile strength and bend radii.A-4
Figure 5 shows a profile made with the same tool setup for three steels at the same thickness having tensile strength ranging from 1000 MPa to 1400 MPa. Even with the large difference in strength, the springback is almost the same.
Figure 5: Roll formed profile made with the same tool setup for three different steels. Bottom to Top: CR700/1000-DP, CR950/1200-MS, CR1150/1400-MS.S-5
Citation A-33 provides guidelines for roll forming High-Strength Steels:
- Select the appropriate number of roll stands for the material being formed. Remember the higher the steel strength, the greater the number of stands required on the roll former.
- Use the minimum allowable bend radius for the material in order to minimize springback.
- Position holes away from the bend radius to help achieve desired tolerances.
- Establish mechanical and dimensional tolerances for successful part production.
- Use appropriate lubrication.
- Use a suitable maintenance schedule for the roll forming line.
- Anticipate end flare (a form of springback). End flare is caused by stresses that build up during the roll forming process.
- Recognize that as a part is being swept (or reformed after roll forming), the compression of metal can cause sidewall buckling, which leads to fit-up problems.
- Do not roll form with worn tooling, as the use of worn tools increases the severity of buckling.
- Do not expect steels of similar yield strength from different steel sources to behave similarly.
- Do not over-specify tolerances.
Guidelines specifically for the highest strength steelsA-33:
- Depending on the grade, the minimum bend radius should be three to four times the thickness of the steel to avoid fracture.
- Springback magnitude can range from ten degrees for 120X steel (120 ksi or 830 MPa minimum yield strength, 860 MPa minimum tensile strength) to 30 degrees for M220HT (CR1200/1500-MS) steel, as compared to one to three degrees for mild steel. Springback should be accounted for when designing the roll forming process.
- Due to the higher springback, it is difficult to achieve reasonable tolerances on sections with large radii (radii greater than 20 times the thickness of the steel).
- Rolls should be designed with a constant radius and an evenly distributed overbend from pass to pass.
- About 50 percent more passes (compared to mild steel) are required when roll forming ultra high-strength steel. The number of passes required is affected by the number of profile bends, mechanical properties of the steel, section depth-to-steel thickness ratio, tolerance requirements, pre-punched holes and notches.
- Due to the higher number of passes and higher material strength, the horsepower requirement for forming is increased.
- Due to the higher material strength, the forming pressure is also higher. Larger shaft diameters should be considered. Thin, slender rolls should be avoided.
- During roll forming, avoid undue permanent elongation of portions of the cross section that will be compressed during the sweeping process.
Roll forming is applicable to shapes other than long, narrow parts. For example, an automaker roll forms their pickup truck beds allowing them to minimize thinning and improve durability (Figure 6). Reduced press forces are another factor that can influence whether a company roll forms rather than stamps truck beds.
Figure 6: Roll Forming can replace stamping in certain applications.G-9
Traditional two-dimensional roll forming uses sequential roll stands to incrementally change flat sheets into the targeted shape having a consistent profile down the length. Advanced dynamic roll forming incorporates computer-controlled roll stands with multiple degrees of freedom that allow the finished profile to vary along its length, creating a three-dimensional profile. The same set of tools create different profiles by changing the position and movements of individual roll stands. In-line 3D profiling expands the number of applications where roll forming is a viable parts production option.
One such example are the 3D roll formed tubes made from 1700 MPa martensitic steel for A-pillar / roof rail applications in the 2020 Ford Explorer and 2020 Ford Escape (Figure 7). Using this approach instead of hydroforming created smaller profiles resulting in improved driver visibility, more interior space, and better packaging of airbags. The strength-to-weight ratio improved by more than 50 percent, which led to an overall mass reduction of 2.8 to 4.5 kg per vehicle.S-104
Figure 7: 3D Roll Formed Profiles in 2020 Ford Vehicles using 1700 MPa martensitic steel.S-104
In summary, roll forming can produce AHSS parts with steels of all levels of mechanical properties and different microstructures with a reduced R/T ratio versus conventional bending. All deformation occurs at a radius, so there is no sidewall curl risk and overbending works to control angular springback.
Traditional roll forming creates products with essentially uniform cross sections. A newer technique called Roll Stamping enhances the ability to create shapes and features which are not in the rolling axis.
Using a patented processA-48, R-9, forming rolls with the part shape along the circumferential direction create the desired form, as shown in Figure 8.
Figure 8: Roll Stamping creates additional shapes and features beyond capabilities of traditional roll forming. A-48
This approach can be applied to a conventional roll forming line. In the example of an automotive door impact beam, the W-shaped profile in the central section and the flat section which attaches to the door inner panel are formed at the same time, without the need for brackets or internal spot welds (Figure 9). Sharp corner curvatures are possible due to the incremental bending deformation inherent in the process.
Figure 9: A roll stamped door part formed on a conventional roll forming line eliminates the need for welding brackets at the edges.R-9
A global automaker used this method to replace a three-piece door impact beam made with a 2.0 mm PHS-CR1500T-MB press hardened steel tube requiring 2 end brackets formed from 1.4 mm CR-500Y780T-DP to attach it to the door frame. The new approach, with a one-piece roll stamped 1.0 mm CR900Y1180T-CP complex phase steel impact beam, resulted in a 10% weight savings and 20% cost savings.K-58 This technique started in mass production on a Korean sedan in 2017, a Korean SUV in 2020, and a European SUV in 2021.K-58
Figure 10: Some Roll Stamping Automotive Applications.K-58
During a tensile test, the elongating sample leads to a reduction in the cross-sectional width and thickness. The shape of the engineering stress-strain curve showing a peak at the load maximum (Figure 1) results from the balance of the work hardening which occurs as metals deform and the reduction in cross-sectional width and thickness which occurs as the sample dogbone is pulled in tension. In the upward sloping region at the beginning of the curve, the effects of work hardening dominate over the cross-sectional reduction. Starting at the load maximum (ultimate tensile strength), the reduction in cross-sectional area of the test sample overpowers the work hardening and the slope of the engineering stress-strain curve decreases. Also beginning at the load maximum, a diffuse neck forms usually in the middle of the sample.
Figure 1: Engineering stress-strain curve from which mechanical properties are derived.
The elongation at which the load maximum occurs is known as Uniform Elongation. In a tensile test, uniform elongation is the percentage the gauge length elongated at peak load relative to the initial gauge length. For example, if the gauge length at peak load measures 61 mm and the initial gauge length was 50mm, uniform elongation is (61-50)/50 = 22%.
Schematics of tensile bar shapes are shown within Figure 1. Note the gauge region highlighted in blue. Up though uniform elongation, the cross-section has a rectangular shape. Necking begins at uniform elongation, and the cross section is no longer rectangular.
Theory and experiments have shown that uniform elongation expressed in true strain units is numerically equivalent to the instantaneous n-value.
Deformation Prior to Uniform Elongation is Not Uniformly Distributed
Conventional wisdom for decades held that there is a uniform distribution of strains within the gauge region of a tensile bar prior to strains reaching uniform elongation. Traditional extensometers calibrated for 50-mm or 80-mm gauge lengths determine elongation from deformation measured relative to this initial length. This approach averages results over these spans.
The advent of Digital Image Correlation (DIC) and advanced processing techniques allowed for a closer look. A studyS-113 released in 2021 clearly showed that each of the 201 data points monitored within a 50 mm gauge length (virtual gauge length of 0.5-mm) experiences a unique strain evolution, with differences starting before uniform elongation.
Figure 2: Strain evolution of the 201 points on the DP980 tensile-test specimen exhibits divergence beginning before uniform elongation—counter to conventional thinking.S-113
Blog, homepage-featured-top, main-blog, Testing and Characterization
Dynamic tensile testing of sheet steels is becoming more important due to the need for more optimized vehicle crashworthiness analysis in the automotive industry. Positive strain rate sensitivity (strength increases with strain rate) as an example, offers a potential for improved energy absorption during a crash event. New systems have been developed in recent years to meet the increasing demand for dynamic testing.
Three important points collectively highlight the need for high-speed testing:
- Tensile properties and fracture behavior change with strain rate.
- Conventional tensile tests using standard dogbone shapes take on the order of 1 to 2 minutes depending on the grade.
- An entire automotive crash takes on the order of 100 milliseconds, with deformation rates 10,000 to 100,000 faster than conventional testing speeds.
Characterizing the response during high-speed testing provides critical information used in crash simulations, but these tests often require upgraded equipment and procedures. Conventional tensile testing equipment may lack the ability to reach the required speeds (on the order of 20 m/s). Sensors for load and displacement must acquire accurate data during tests which take just a few milliseconds.
Higher speed tensile and fracture characterization also aids in predicting the properties of stamped parts, as deformation rates in stamping are 100 to 1,000 times higher than most testing rates.
Steel alloys possess positive strain rate sensitivity, or m-value, meaning that strength increases with strain rate. This has benefits related to improved crash energy absorption.
Characterizing this response requires use of robust testing equipment and practices appropriate for the targeted strain rate. Some techniques involve a tensile or compressive Split Hopkinson (Kolsky) Bar, a drop tower or impact system, or a high-speed servo-hydraulic system. Historically, no guidelines were available as to the testing method, specimen dimensions, measurement devices, and other important issues which are critical to the quality of testing results. As a result, data from different laboratories were often not comparable. A WorldAutoSteel committee evaluated various procedures, conducted several round-robins, and developed a recommended procedure, which evolved into what are now both parts of ISO 26203, linked below.
Published standards addressing tensile testing at high strain rates include:
The specific response as a function of strain rate is grade dependent. Some grades get stronger and more ductile as the strain rate increases (left image in Figure 1), while other grades see primarily a strength increase (right image in Figure 1). Increases are not linear or consistent with strain rate, so simply scaling the response from conventional quasi-static testing does not work well. Strain hardening (n-value) also changes with speed in some grades, as suggested by the different slopes in the right image of Figure 1. Accurate crash models must also consider how strain rate sensitivity impacts bake hardenability and the magnitude of the TRIP effect, both of which are further complicated by the strain levels in the part from stamping.
Figure 1: Two steels with different strength/ductility response to increasing strain rate.A-7
Predicting metal flow and failure is the essence of sheet metal forming simulation. Characterizing the stress-strain response to metal flow requires a detailed understanding of when the sheet metal first starts to permanently deform (known as the yield criteria), how the metal strengthens with deformation (the hardening law), and the failure criteria (for example, the forming limit curve). Complicating matters is that each of these responses changes as three-dimensional metal flow occurs, and are functions of temperature and forming speed.
The ability to simulate these features reliably and accurately requires mathematical constitutive laws that are appropriate for the material and forming environments encountered. Advanced models typically improve prediction accuracy, at the cost of additional numerical computational time and the cost of experimental testing to determine the material constants. Minimizing these costs requires compromises, with some of these indicated in Table I created based on Citations B-16 and R-28.
Table I: Deviations from reality made to reduce simulation costs. Based on Citations B-16 and R-28.
The yield criteria (also known as the yield surface or yield loci) defines the conditions representing the transition from elastic to plastic deformation. Assuming uniform metal properties in all directions allows for the use of isotropic yield functions like von Mises or Tresca. A more realistic approach considers anisotropic metal flow behavior, requiring the use of more complex yield functions like those associated with Hill, Barlat, Banabic, or Vegter.
No one yield function is best suited to characterize all metals. Some yield functions have many required inputs. For example, “Barlat 2004-18p” has 18 separate parameters leading to improved modeling accuracy – but only when inserting the correct values. Using generic textbook values is easier, but negates the value of the chosen model. However, determining these variables typically is costly and time-consuming, and requires the use of specialized test equipment.
Metals get stronger as they deform, which leads to the term work hardening. The flow stress at any given amount of plastic strain combines the yield strength and the strengthening from work hardening. In its simplest form, the stress-strain curve from a uniaxial tensile test shows the work hardening of the chosen sheet metal. This approach ignores many of the realities occurring during forming of engineered parts, including bi-directional deformation.
Among the simpler descriptions of flow stress are those from Hollomon, Swift, and Ludvik. More complex hardening laws are associated with Voce and Hockett-Sherby.
The strain path followed by the sheet metal influences the hardening. Approaches taken in the Yoshida-Uemori (YU) and the Homogeneous Anisotropic Hardening (HAH) models extend these hardening laws to account for Bauschinger Effect deformations (the bending-unbending associated with travel over beads, radii, and draw walls).
As with the yield criteria, accuracy improves when accounting for three-dimensional metal flow, temperature, and forming speed, and using experimentally determined input parameters for the metal in question rather than generic textbook values.
Defining the failure conditions is the other significant challenge in metal forming simulation. Conventional Forming Limit Curves describe necking failure under certain forming modes, and are easier to understand and apply than alternatives. Complexity and accuracy increase when accounting for non-linear strain paths using stress-based Forming Limit Curves. Necking failure is not the only type of failure mode encountered. Conventional FLCs cannot predict fracture on tight radii and cut edges, nor can they account for dimensional issues like springback. For these, failure criteria definitions which are more mathematically complex are appropriate.
Constitutive Laws and Their Influence
on Forming Simulation Accuracy
Many simulation packages allow for an easy selection of constitutive laws, typically through a drop-down menu listing all the built-in choices. This ease potentially translates into applying inappropriate selections unless the simulation analyst has a fundamental understanding of the options, the inputs, and the data generation procedures.
- The “Keeler Equation” for the estimation of FLC0 has many decades of evidence in being sufficiently accurate when applied to mild steels and conventional high strength steels. The simple inputs of n-value and thickness make this approach particularly attractive. However, there is ample evidence that using this approach with most advanced high strength steels cannot yield a satisfactory representation of the Forming Limit Curve.
- Even in cases where it is appropriate to use the Keeler Equation, a key input is the n-value or the strain hardening exponent. This value is calculated as the slope of the (natural logarithm of the true stress):(natural logarithm of the true strain curve). The strain range over which this calculation is made influences the generated n-value, which in turn impacts the calculated value for FLC0.
- The strain history as measured by the strain path at each location greatly influences the Forming Limit. However, this concept has not gained widespread understanding and use by simulation analysts.
- A common method to experimentally determine flow curves combines tensile testing results through uniform elongation with higher strain data obtained from biaxial bulge testing. Figure 1 shows a flow curve obtained in this manner for a bake hardenable steel with 220 MPa minimum yield strength. Shown in Figure 2 is a comparison of the stress-strain response from multiple hardening laws associated with this data, all generated from the same fitting strain range between yield and tensile strength. Data diverges after uniform elongation, leading to vastly different predictions. Note that the differences between models change depending on the metal grade and the input data, so it is not possible to say that one hardening law will always be more accurate than others.
Figure 1: Flow curves for a bake hardenable steel generated by combining tensile testing with bulge testing.L-20
Figure 2: The chosen hardening law leads to vastly different predictions of stress-strain responses.L-20
- Analysts often treat Poisson’s Ratio and the Elastic Modulus as constants. It is well known that the Bauschinger Effect leads to changes in the Elastic Modulus, and therefore impacts springback. However, there are also significant effects in both Poisson’s Ratio (Figure 3) and the Elastic Modulus (Figure 4) as a function of orientation relative to the rolling direction. Complicating matters is that this effect changes based on the selected metal grade.
Figure 3: Poisson’s Ratio as a Function of Orientation for Several Grades (Drawing Steel, DP 590, DP 980, DP 1180, and MS 1700) D-11
Figure 4: Modulus of Elasticity as a Function of Orientation for Several Grades (Drawing Steel, DP 590, DP 980, DP 1180, and MS 1700) D-11
Testing to Determine Inputs for Simulation
Complete material card development requires results from many tests, each attempting to replicate one or more aspects of metal flow and failure. Certain models require data from only some of these tests, and no one model typically is best for all metals and forming conditions. Tests described below include:
- Tensile testing [room temperature at slow strain rates to elevated temperature with accelerated strain rates]
- Biaxial bulge testing
- Biaxial tensile testing
- Shear testing
- V-bending testing
- Tension-compression testing with cyclic loading
Tensile testing is the easiest and most widely available mechanical property evaluation required to generate useful data for metal forming simulation. However, a tensile test provides a complete characterization of material flow only when the engineered part looks like a dogbone and all deformation resulted from pulling the sample in tension from the ends. That is obviously not realistic. Getting tensile test results in more than just the rolling direction helps, but generating those still involves pulling the sample in tension. Three-dimensional metal flow occurs, and the stress-strain response of the sheet metal changes accordingly.
The uniaxial tensile test generates a draw deformation strain state since the edges are free to contract. A plane strain tensile test requires using a modified sample geometry with an increased width and decreased gauge length,
Forming all steels involves a thermal component, either resulting from friction and deformation during “room temperature” forming or the intentional addition of heat such as used in press hardening. In either case, modeling the response to temperature requires data from tests occurring at the temperature of interest, at appropriate forming speeds. Thermo-mechanical simulators like Gleeble™ generate such data.
Conventional tensile testing occurs at deformation rates of 0.001/sec. Most production stamping occurs at 10,000x that amount, or 10/sec. Crash events can be 2 orders of magnitude faster, at about 1000/sec. The stress-strain response varies by both testing speed and grade. Therefore, accurate simulation models require data from higher-speed tensile testing. Typically, generating high speed tensile data involves drop towers or Split Hopkinson Pressure Bars.
A pure uniaxial stress state exists in a tensile test only until reaching uniform elongation and the beginning of necking. Extrapolating uniaxial tensile data beyond uniform elongation risks introducing inaccuracies in metal flow simulations. Biaxial bulge testing generates the data for yield curve extrapolation beyond uniform elongation. This stretch-forming process deforms the sheet sample into a dome shape using hydraulic pressure, typically exerted by water-based fluids. Citation I-12 describes a standard test procedure for biaxial bulge testing.
A Marciniak test used to create Forming Limit Curves generates in-plane biaxial strains. Whereas FLC generation uses 100 mm diameter samples, larger samples allow for extraction of full-size tensile bars. Although this approach generates samples containing biaxial strains, the extracted samples are tested uniaxially in the conventional manner.
Biaxial tensile testing allows for the determination of the yield locus and the biaxial anisotropy coefficient, which describes the slope of the yield surface at the equi-biaxial stress state. This test uses cruciform-shaped test pieces with parallel slits cut into each arm. Citation I-13 describes a standard test procedure for biaxial tensile testing. The biaxial anisotropy coefficient can also be determined using the disk compression testing as described in Citation T-21.
Shear testing characterizes the sheet metal in a shear loading condition. There is no consensus on the specimen type or testing method. However, the chosen testing set-up should avoid necking, buckling, and any influence of friction.
V-bending tests determine the strain to fracture under specific loading conditions. Achieving plane strain or plane stress loading requires use of a test sample with features promoting the targeted strain state.
Tension-compression testing characterizes the Bauschinger Effect. Multiple cycles of tension-compression loading captures cyclic hardening behavior and elastic modulus decay, both of which improve the accuracy of springback predictions. Again, no standard procedure exists. The biggest challenge with this test is preventing buckling from occurring during in-plane compressive loading. Related to this is the need to compensate for the friction caused by the anti-buckling mechanism in the stress-strain curves .
Friction is obviously a key factor in how metal flows. However, there is no one simple value of friction that applies to all surfaces, lubricants, and tooling profiles. The coefficient of friction not only varies from point to point on each stamping but changes during the forming process. Determining the coefficient of friction experimentally is a function of the testing approach used. The method by which analysts incorporate friction into simulations influences the accuracy and applicability of the results of the generated model.
Studies are underway to reduce the costs and challenges of obtaining much of this data. It may be possible, for example, to use Digital Image Correlation (DIC) during a simple uniaxial tensile testing to quantify r-value at high strains, determine the material hardening behavior along with strain rate sensitivity, assess the degradation of Young’s Modulus during unloading, and use the detection of the onset of local neck to help account for non-linear strain path effects.S-110
Application of Advanced Testing to Failure Predictions
Global formability failures occur when the forming strains exceed the necking forming limit throughout the entire thickness of the sheet. Advanced steels are at risk of local formability failures where the forming strains exceed the fracture forming limit at any portion of the thickness of the sheet.
Fracture forming limit curves plot higher than the conventional necking forming limit curves on a graph showing major strain on the vertical axis and minor strain on the horizontal axis. In conventional steels the gap between the fracture FLC and necking FLC is relatively large, so the part failure is almost always necking. The forming strains are not high enough to reach the fracture FLC.
In contrast, AHSS grades are characterized by a smaller gap between the necking FLC and the fracture FLC. Depending on the forming history, part geometry (tight radii), and blank processing (cut edge quality), forming strains may exceed the fracture FLC at an edge or bend before exceeding the necking FLC through-thickness. In this scenario, the part will fracture without signs of localized necking.
A multi-year study funded by the American Iron and Steel Institute at the University of Waterloo Forming and Crash Lab describes a methodology used for forming and fracture characterization of advanced high strength steels, the details of which can be found in Citations B-11, W-20, B-12, B-13, R-5, N-13 and G-19.
This collection of studies, as well as work coming out of these studies, show that relatively few tests sufficiently characterize forming and fracture of AHSS grades. These studies considered two 3rd Gen Steels, one with 980MPa tensile strength and one with 1180MPa tensile.
- The yield surface as generated with the Barlat YLD2000-2d yield surface (Figure 5) comes from:
- Conventional tensile testing at 0, 22.5, 45, 67.5, and 90 degrees to the rolling direction, determining the yield strength and the r-value;
- Disc compression tests according to the procedure in Citation T-21 to determine the biaxial R-value, rb.
Figure 5: Tensile testing and disc compression testing generate the Barlat YLD2000-2d yield surface in two 3rd Generation AHSS Grades B-13
- Creating the hardening curve uses a procedure detailed in Citations R-5 and N-13, and involves only conventional tensile and shear testing using the procedure included in Citation P-15.
Figure 6: Test geometries for hardening curve generation. Left image: Tensile; Right image: Shear.N-13
- Characterizing formability involved generating a Forming Limit Curve using Marciniak data or process-corrected Nakazima data. (See our article on non-linear strain paths) and Citation N-13 for explanation of process corrections]. Either approach resulted in acceptable characterizations.
- Fracture characterization uses four plane stress tests: shear, conical hole expansion, V-bending, and a biaxial dome test. The result from these tests calibrate the fracture locus describing the stress states at fracture.
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Manufacturing precision welded tubes typically involves continuous roll forming followed by a longitudinal weld typically created by high frequency (HF) induction welding process known as electric resistance welding (ERW) or by laser welding.
Tubular components can be a cost-effective way to reduce vehicle mass and improve safety. Closed sections are more rigid, resulting in improved structural stiffness. Automotive applications include seat structures, cross members, side impact beams, bumpers, engine subframes, suspension arms, and twist beams. All AHSS grades can be roll formed and welded into tubes with large D/t ratios (tube diameter / wall thickness); tubes having 100:1 D/t with a 1mm wall thickness are available for Dual Phase and TRIP grades.
Figure 1: Automotive Applications for Tubular Components.A-35
As roll formed and welded tubes are used with mounting brackets and little else in some Side Intrusion Beams (Figure 2), or they can be used as a precursor to hydroforming, such as the Engine Cradle shown in Figure 3.
Figure 2: Side intrusion beams made from a welded tube with mounting brackets.S-34
Figure 3: The stages of a Hydroformed Engine Cradle: A) Straight Tube, B) After bending; C) After pre-forming; D) Hydroformed Engine Cradle. S-35
The processing steps of tube manufacturing affect the mechanical properties of the tube, increasing the yield strength and tensile strength, while decreasing the total elongation. Subsequent operations like flaring, flattening, expansion, reduction, die forming, bending and hydroforming must consider the tube properties rather than the properties of the incoming flat sheet.
The work hardening, which takes place during the tube manufacturing process, increases the yield strength and makes the welded AHSS tubes appropriate as a structural material. Mechanical properties of welded AHSS tubes (Figure 4) show welded AHSS tubes provide excellent engineering properties. AHSS tubes are suitable for structures and offer competitive advantage through high-energy absorption, high strength, low weight, and cost efficient manufacturing
Figure 4: Anticipated Properties of AHSS Tubes; A) Yield Strength, B) Total Elongation.R-1
The degree of work hardening, and consequently the formability of the tube, depends both on the steel grade and the tube diameter/thickness ratio (D/T) as shown in Figure 5. The degree of work hardening influences the reduction in formability of tubular materials compared with the as-produced sheet material. Furthermore, computerized forming-process development utilizes the actual true stress-true strain curve of steel taken from the tube, which is influenced by the steel grade, tube diameter, and forming process.
Figure 5: Examples of true stress – true strain curves for AHSS tubes made from Dual Phase Steel with 590 MPa minimum tensile strength.A-36
Bending AHSS tubes follows the same laws that apply to ordinary steel tubes. Splitting, buckling, and wrinkling must all be avoided. As wall thickness and bend radius decrease, the potential for wrinkling or buckling increases.
One method to evaluate the formability of a tube is the minimum bend radius. An empirically derived formulaS-36 for the minimum Centerline Radius (CLR) considers both tube diameter (D) and total elongation (A) determined in a tensile test with a proportional test specimen, and assumes tube formation via rotary draw bending:
The formula shows that a bending radius equal to the tube diameter (1xD) requires a steel with 50% elongation. Successfully bending low elongation material needs a greater bend radius. Consider, for example, a dual phase steel grade where the elongation of a sample measured off the tube is 12.5%. Here, the minimum bend radius is 4 times the tube diameter. The tube bending method, the use and type of mandrels, and choice of lubrication may all affect the CLR.
The engineering strain on the outer surface can be estimated as the tube diameter (D) divided by twice the Centerline Radius (CLR):
For example, if you are bending a 40 mm diameter tube around a centerline radius of 100mm, the engineering strain on the outer surface is approximately 40/[2*100] = 20%. As a rough estimate, successful bending requires the tube to have a minimum elongation value from a tensile test in excess of this amount. Otherwise, a larger radius or modifications to the forming process is needed.
Springback is related to the elastic behavior of the tube. Yield strength variation between production batches can lead to variation in the amount of springback. A rule of thumb is that a variation of ± 10 MPa in yield strength causes a variation of approximately ± 0.1° in the bending radius. In addition, a high frequency weld which is harder and stronger than the base material causes a maximum of approximately ± 0.1° variation in bending radius.S-36
The bending behavior of tube depends on both the tubular material and the bending technique. The weld seam is also an area of non-uniformity in the tubular cross section, and therefore influences the forming behavior of welded tubes. The recommended procedure is to locate the weld area in a neutral position during the bending operation.
Figures 6 and 7 provide examples of the forming of AHSS tubes. The discussion on Tailored Products describes tailored tubes, which may be further hydroformed.
Figure 6: DP steel bent to 45 degrees with centerline bending radius of 1.5xD using booster bending. Steel properties in the tube: 610 MPa yield strength, 680 MPa tensile strength, 27% total elongation. R-1
Figure 7: Hydroformed Engine Cradle made from a dual phase steel welded tube by draw bending with centerline bending radius of 1.6xD and a bending angle greater than 90 degrees. Steel properties in the tube: 540 MPa yield strength, 710 MPa tensile strength, 34% total elongation. R-1
- Due to the cold working generated during tube forming, the formability of the tube is reduced compared to the as-received sheet.
- The work hardening during tube forming increases the YS and TS, thereby allowing the tube to be a structural member.
- Successful bending requires aligning the targeted radii with the available elongation of the selected steel grade.
- The weld seam should be located at the neutral axis of the tube, whenever possible during the bending operation.
Testing and Characterization
Tensile testing cannot be used to determine bendability, since these are different failure modes. Failure in bending is like other modes limited by local formability in that only the outermost surface must exceed the failure criteria.
ASTM E290A-26, ISO 7438I-8, and JIS Z2248J-5 are some of the general standards which describe the requirements for the bend testing of metals. In a Three-Point Bend Test, a supported sample is loaded at the center point and bent to a predetermined angle or until the test sample fractures. Failure is determined by the size and frequency of cracks and imperfections on the outer surface allowed by the material specification or the end user.
Variables in this test include the distance between the supports, the bending radius of the indenter (sometimes called a pusher or former), the loading angle which stops the test, whether the loading angle is determined while under load or after springback, and the crack size and frequency resulting in failure.
For automotive applications, the VDA238-100V-4 test specification is increasingly used. Here, sample dimension, punch tip radius, roller spacing, and roller radius are all constrained to limit variability in results. Figure 1 shows a schematic of the test.
Figure 1: Schematic of Bend Testing to VDA238-100, with Bending Angle Definition.
This video, courtesy of Universal Grip Company,U-5 describes the support rollers in the VDA238-100 test.
Calculation of the bending angle is not always straightforward. Bending formulas such as that shown within VDA238-100 assume perfect contact between the sheet metal and the punch radius. However, experimental evidence exists showing this contact does not always occur, especially in AHSS grades.
Figure 2 presents one example testing DP600 where the punch radius is larger than the radius on the bent sheet, leading to a physical separation between the punch and sheet.L-12
This physical separation also has implications for standardized bendability characterizations. A common measure of bendability is the punch radius to sheet thickness ratio, rPUNCH/t. In higher strength grades where this punch-sheet-liftoff is likely to occur, this may lead to an overestimation of how safe a design is when the punch radius may be measurably larger (less severe) than the tighter, more extreme radius actually experienced on the sheet.
Figure 2: DP600 After Testing to VDA238-100. Note punch radius is larger than radius in bent sheet resulting in separation.L-12
Furthermore, bending tests do not always result in a round bent sheet shape and constant thickness around the punch tip, especially when testing 980MPa tensile strength steel grades and higher which have low strain hardening capability. Figure 3 shows pronounced flattening and thinning of the sheet below the punch tip after bending, occurring primarily on the side opposite the punch stretched in tension. Efforts to replicate this phenomenon in simulation have failed, since the underlying mechanism is not yet fully understood.
Figure 3: Flattening and Thinning Behavior after Bending.L-12
Results from bend testing are typically reported as the smallest R/T (the ratio between the die radius and the sheet thickness) that results in a crack-free bend. Many steel companies report minimum bend test limits for various grades and certain automakers include minimum bend test requirements in their specifications as well. Different steel companies and automakers may have different bend test methods and/or requirements, so it is important to understand those requirements and procedures to better match the material characteristics with the customer’s design and process expectations. The test methods could involve a bend of 60°, 90°, 180° as well as various radii, die materials, speeds, etc.
Figure 4 shows etched cross sections of different grades bend to either 0T (fold flat) or 0.5T radii for reference purposes.
Figure 4: Etched cross sections of various grades. Top row, left: 0T bend of DP350/600; Top row, right: 0T bend of HSLA450/550; Bottom left: 0.5T bend of TRIP 350/600; Bottom center: 0T bend of TRIP 350/600; Bottom right: 0.5T bend of DP 450/800.K-1