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LESSON 44 Leaf Springs

A simply supported or a cantilever beam may be used as a leaf spring. The crosssection of the beam may be uniform or the strength may be made uniform by keeping either a constant thickness or a constant width Generally the thickness of the beam is kept constant to have uniform strength and the width is varied. In Fig. 5.1(a) a cantilever beam has been shown with uniform and varying width. The maximum bending stress in both the beam is same as given by

Fig. 5.1 Leaf springs. The maximum deflection of the beam of uniform cross-section is,

and of the tapering width beam is,

Fig. 5.1 (b) shows a simply supported beam having uniform as well is variable width. The maximum bending stress in both the beams is the same and is given by:

The maximum deflection of the beam of uniform cross-section is,

and of the beam having tapering width is

It may be observed that beams of uniform strength permit a considerable saving in material and at the same time provide greater deflection. This means that their resilience and capacity for absorbing impact energy is also greater. The width of the beam at the ends of the beam should be theoretically zero due to the bending moment to be zero there. But to take the shear stress at the ends, the beam must have some finite width. As shown in Fig. 5.2 (a), for a simply supported beam of uniform strength, the width at a distance x from the ends is given by :

where b is the maximum width at the centre.

Fig. 5.2 Leaf spring of uniform strength.

Laminated Springs To take the necessary bending at the centre, the width b may become too large in a single leaf spring. In order to decrease the width, the diamond-shaped plate shown in Fig. 5.2 (a) can be assumed to be cut into narrow strips as indicated in Fig. 5.2 (b), and then assembled with a clamp. The width of each leaf will be b' = bin, where n is the number of leaves. Such a spring is called a laminated spring and is very commonly used in automobiles, railway cars etc. The maximum bending stress and deflection value shall be the same as for the original plate.
For a semi-elliptical spring, we have

In an actual laminated spring, the full-length leaves must have square ends as shown in Fig. 5.2 (c) at the bottom. However, it is always better to taper the ends as shown in Fig. 5.2 (c) in the middle. The unloaded spring is curved, or cambered. The magnitude of camber being such that the spring is approximately straight under the full static load. The camber under the maximum dynamic load will be negative. Table 5.3 Factor of Safety for Laminated Springs

Problems in Laminated Springs


A common trouble with laminated springs is fatigue failure oft he leaves. Some factors contributing to this type of failure are the weakening effect of the hole if the centre bolt is used; contact pressure produced by U bolts and rebound clips; stressconcentration caused by improperly shaped leaf ends; initial curvature and relative change of curvature of the leaves during loading; vibration of the spring ends during rebound, which may cause breakage of a leaf at an unloaded condition; and improper heat treatment, especially surface de carburisation. For leaves of uniform width and thickness, there is sliding between the contacting surfaces of the leaves during deflection, resulting in inter leaf friction. This friction is generally not compatible with the rebound control in the spring.

Graduated and Full Length Leaves


If a plate of length 1is cut into a series of n strips of width b thickness h and assembled, fixed at the one end and loaded with a force F at the other, then

where f stands for the full1ength leaves. If a triangular plate is cut into n strips and placed one above the other to form a graduated leaf spring, then

Where the subscript g stands for graduated leaves. For the deflection to be the same for full-length and graduated leaves, it can be shown that

The deflection of the spring is,

Equalised Stress in Spring Leaves


Comparing Eqs. (12.88) and (12.89) we find that the stress in full length leaves is 50 per cent more than the stress in graduated leaves. In order to stress all the leaves to the same extent, the full-length leaves are given a greater radius of curvature than that of the graduated leaves, before the leaves are assembled to form a spring. This will leave a gap between the leaves. When the centre spring clip is drawn up tight, the upper leaf will bend back and have an initial stress opposite to that produced by the normal service loading, and the lower leaf will have an initial stress of the same nature as that produced by the normal loading. Thus on loadings, the upper full-length leaves will have lower value of resultant stress than that of without gap. The initial gap between the leaves can be adjusted so that under maximum load conditions the stress in all the leaves is the same. Two spring leaves with initial gap C between them are shown in Fig. 5.4. For equal stress between the graduated and full length le~& at maximum load the total deflection of the graduated leaves will exceed the deflection of full length leaves by an amount equal to the initial gap C. It can be shown that to achieve this, the initial gap should be given by:

The load on the centre bolt Fb required to close the gap is:

Fig.5.4