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International Journal of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (IJMME), Vol.6 (2011), No.3, 425-430

A FATIGUE ANALYSIS AND LIFE ESTIMATION OF CRANKSHAFT - A REVIEW

R.M. Metkar1, V.K. Sunnapwar2 and S.D. Hiwase3


1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Govt. College of Engineering, Amravati 444602, India
2
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lokmanya Tilak College of Engineering, Koperkhairane,
Navi Mumbai, 444708, India.
3
Axis IT&T, Axis Aerospace Technology Hyderabad, 500005, India
Email: rajeshmetkar@yahoo.co.in

Received 2 July 2011, Accepted 12 December 2011

ABSTRACT stress concentration which will propagate subsequently and


The main objective of writing review on fatigue life of failure of crankshaft takes place. Most of the crankshafts
crankshaft is to investigate the behavior of crankshaft under that failed in fatigue were due to bending fatigue Design
complex loading conditions. Automobile industries are and Development has always an important issue in
always interested to develop a new product which will be crankshaft production industry to manufacture less
innovative and fulfill market expectations. All the engine expensive crankshaft with high fatigue strength
components are subjected to constant to varying load which (Montazersadgh and Fatemi, 2007)
also varies in direction and due to these, components may
fail. Bending and shear stress due to twisting are common 2. METHODS AVAILABLE
stresses acting on crankshaft. Due to the repeated bending Crankshaft is an important engine component which is
and twisting, crankshaft fails, as cracks form in fillet area. subjected to fluctuating or cyclic loads often resulting in
Hence, fatigue plays an important role in crankshaft fatigue failures (Pun, 2001).Various methods are available
development. Accurate prediction of fatigue life is very and some are developed by researchers. Three methods
important to insure safety of components and its reliability. which are used to predict fatigue life include stress life(S-
This review paper considers crankshaft as an important part N), strain Life (E-N) and Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics
of engine components, as forces which are acting on (LEFM). S-N method is based on nominal stress life using
crankshaft are many and variable in nature. This paper rainflow cycle counting. This method can be helpful to test
presents an idea about research undertaken or completed on fatigue life but only disadvantage is that plasticity effect is
fatigue life of crankshaft, methods available and role of not considered and provides poor accuracy for low cycle
Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and experimental fatigue (Solid work Corporation 2005).The strain life
techniques used. method provides more detailed analysis involving plastic
Keywords: Finite Element Method, Crack Propagation, deformation at a localized region and is useful for low cycle
Crankshaft, Fatigue. fatigue. Linear elastic fracture mechanics assume that crack
is already available and detected and predicts crack growth
by considering stress intensity factor. Because of easy
1. INTRODUCTION implementation and various data available, stress life
Crankshaft is an important component of internal method is most commonly used where S-N curve data for
combustion engine with complex geometry. Crankshaft particular material is commonly available.
experiences a large number of load cycle during its service
life (Taylor and Ciepalowicz 1997) .The sudden failure of A new method called, cracks modeling, is developed by
crankshaft made researchers and academia to investigate (Taylor and Ciepalowicz, 1997) to predict fatigue failure of
the problem. Because of complicated loading and geometry crankshaft. This technique uses a Liner Elastic Finite
problem, general method to predict fatigue life is still not Element Analysis to derive stress intensity factor for
evolved. Since crankshaft is subjected to several force component under load. In this method, stress intensity
which vary in magnitude and direction (multiaxial) and factor is calculated without introducing a crack into a
connecting rod transmitting gas pressure from cylinder to component; stress field around the maximum stress point is
crankpin, stresses acting in the crankshaft vary with respect examined and compared to that of standard centre cracked
to time (Montazersadgh and Fatemi, 2007) Most of time plate. The material property is threshold stress intensity
crankshaft fails due to fatigue at fillet areas due to bending range. This research predicted the failure of crankshaft
load. Fillet rolling can increase fatigue life [Park et.al. under constant amplitude loading. Failure occurs from
2001].Engine mechanism and geometry has large impact on stress concentration whose location is varied with loading
fillet which experiences a large stress cycle during its type basically due to bending and torsion (Taylor, et al.,
working. Small crack initiates at this fillet location due to 1999). In order to describe the severity of stress
425
concentration a crack modeling method is used (Taylor and natural frequency, bearing load and axial displacement
Ciepalowicz, 1997). Other Method Known as Damaged which is required for fatigue life estimation. (Mourelatos,
Tolerance Analysis in which uses Linear Elastic Fracture 1995) suggested reducing flywheel inertia in order to
Mechanics approach(LEFM) to predict the crack stability, increase the resonance frequency and second to balance the
crack growth, and hence minimal time between the two crankshaft internally in order to eliminate the unbalanced
inspection to avoid a crack reaching critical size. The force on the flywheel. Crankshaft is also subjected higher
function of this method is to assess the effect of cracks in loads at elevated temperature(Halaszi et al,1999), therefore
the structure. Damage tolerance is the ability to resist the thermo mechanical fatigue (TMF) life prediction has now
fracture from pre existing crack in the given period of time commonly used in automotive industry as complex thermal
to avoid catastrophic failure. (Paswan and Goel, 2008) and mechanical strains is used to find Fatigue life of engine
component. Sehitoglu TMF Life prediction model
Power Engineering Tool (PET) (Mikulec et al, 1998) developed by university of Illinois can be used to described
developed by Ford Motor Company is a Graphics User the material behavior at different temperature and strain rate
Interface based computer model that calculate engine
performance and the geometry at early stage of design. The Fatigue Life can also determined by Principal Stress
Cranktrain development process is initiated by estimating criterion by considering largest Principal stress (Mercer et
required peak engine speeds for the peak engine power, al, 2003). Principal strain criterion considers largest
cylinder bore diameter and piston stroke may be determined principal strain and Von misses equivalent strain criterion
by using the combination of engine simulation results and provides an estimate of onset yielding behavior of material
empirical data of similar engine. By using this method, can also be used to predict fatigue life estimation. (Baxter,
crankshaft system information such as number of cheeks 1993) had studied the crack detection on crankshaft by
per bay, number of main journal and crankpin etc can be using gel electrode techniques. In this experiment, at critical
found out. PET model easily generates initial geometry of locations of crankshaft, a thin film of polymer film was
complete power train system based on imputed engine applied and after fatigue test the surface was inspected with
configuration and design various parameters such as peak gel electrode probe. By using cathode and anode induced
engine power, torque, and geometry constrain and Number current flows at fatigue site and information is displayed as
of cylinders. High vibrations are playing important role in a direct image. AFGROW is one of the very good software
development of crack. A crankshaft system model available in the field of fatigue analysis and even very
(CRANKSYM) was used to verify the high vibration level widely been used as well. Because of the complicated
in bearing cap. CRANKSYM is able to performed coupled shape, size, topology and topography of crank shafts with
analysis along with structural dynamics .It also calculates several fillets and radius the use of AFGROW is showing
dynamic stresses on the crankshaft throughout whole the limitations on its application on crankshaft fatigue
engine cycle for which Finite Element model of complete prediction. Hence, even not many references are also been
assembly is required. This model gives output such as sited on this subject.
3. MATERIAL FACTOR crankshaft cost, machinability and fatigue strength play
Material plays an important role in fatigue life of important role. (Hoffmann and Turonek, 1992) studied two
crankshaft. The steel alloy is typically used in high strength Chrysler corporation engines utilizing forge crankshaft. Six
crankshaft, as it carries most desirable combinations different grades of steel with different chemical
properties (Kane, 2009). Due to cyclic loading, material composition were considered. To determine potential cost
behaves differently than under monotonic loading (Pun, reduction, a computerized cost model for crankshaft was
2001). Different types of cyclic material properties are used to evaluate the economics of each material which is
required depending on the type of fatigue loading. Different developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
alloy and surface treatment will increase fatigue life of Isotropic and anisotropic materials behave differently under
crankshaft. (Park, et al. 2001) suggested that optimum level multiaxial loading conditions (Liu and Mahadevan, 2000).
of nitriding depth should be at least 400 micrometer and They studied two different models for multiaxial fatigue life
because of nitriding fatigue limit is improved without any prediction of isotropic and anisotropic material. For
design modification. It is also proposed by (Park et al, isotropic material critical plane approach was used which
2001) that the best combination of crankshaft material with depends on stress state and on material and fatigue fracture
proper surface treatment can be used, which improves the plane was determined. The multiaxial fatigue problem of
quality and reduces the cost. Induction hardened crankshaft anisotropic material is more complex as compared to other
usually have longer fatigue life than other material (Taylor materials, hence fatigue failure of composite material are
et al., 1999) more complex than metal. Deep rolling of the fillet area is a
significant surface treatment of an engine crankshaft by
Forge steel is commonly used as a crankshaft material which the fatigue life of a crankshaft is increased by
because of requirement of higher horsepower per liter developing a compressive residual stress in fillet area (Ko
(Hoffmann and Turonek, 1992) while selecting material for et al, 2005)
426
4. EXPERIMENTAL TECHNIQUES prepared and results of experimental techniques and by
(Paswan and Goel, 2008) investigated fatigue results of using FEM were found in good agreement.
induction hardened and case hardened 6 cylinder
Crankshaft .Stain gauges are placed in fillet area. The other commonly used experimental method to test
Crankshaft is installed on fixture and clamp ring, cooler is bending fatigue limit is Rotating bending fatigue test. In
used to prevent loosening. This fixture is attached to inertial this constant bending stress is applied to round sample of
weight and shaker and accelerometer. Due to shaker crankshaft material along with rotation until its failure. This
crankshaft acts as a tuning fork and arrangement is made technique is simple and easy to use. Reciprocating Bending
such that if there is any failure in crankshaft, cycle stops Testing Machines utilize a rotating crank to achieve a non-
automatically. After investigating twelve sample of zero mean stress through positioning of the specimen with
crankshaft using this technique, author found no evidence respect to the motor, whereas Direct Force Fatigue Testing
of failure and predicted that induction hardened crankshaft Machines uses axial load. Staircase method is very
has longer life than any other material. commonly used in auto sector for crank shaft fatigue
An investigation of a damaged crankshaft from a testing) and then apply a statistical analysis. In this initial
horizontal, six-cylinder, in-line diesel engine of a public bus stress amplitude based on experience is applied and sample
was conducted by (Alfares et al. 2007) after several failure is tested for survive or failure. When a survival (failure)
cases were reported by the bus company. All crankshafts occurs, the stress amplitude is increased (decreased) by one
were made from forged and nitriding steel. In Laboratory stress increment (“step”) for the next sample. Magnetic
investigation the depth of the nitriding layer near fracture Particle Testing can be utilized on any ferromagnetic
locations in the crankshaft, particularly at the fillet region material in a variety of forms such as bars, engine
where cracks were initiated, was determined by scanning components such as crankshaft for in-service
electron microscope (SEM) equipped with electron- discontinuities. Magnetic particle Testing (MT) is a
dispersive X-ray analysis (EDAX) and was found less. nondestructive method which utilizes the flux leakage
Fractography which is the study of fracture surfaces of arising as a result of surface and near surface discontinuities
materials indicated that fatigue was the dominant to detect flaws. A Magnetic current or field is imposed on
mechanism of failure of the crankshaft. The partial absence the part under inspection, a flux leakage at the surface of
of the nitriding layer in the fillet region, due to over- the part results in accumulation of sprayed iron powder,
grinding, caused a decrease in the fatigue strength which, in giving a direct indication of flaw. Ultrasonic Testing
turn, led to crack initiation and propagation, and eventually utilizes sound waves with a frequency greater than 20 kHz
premature fracture. (Alfares et al. 2007) (inaudible to humans) to detect flaws and/ or material
properties. Modern Ultrasonic Testing (UT) can be utilized
for finding cracks, de-bonds and laminations; detecting
Jung et al. (2009) used ductile crankshaft which is macrostructure variations and anomalies; variations in
commonly used for SUV and lightweight truck. A physical dimensions; and for density, mass and elastic
crankshaft is mounted on fixture and monotonic bending property determinations. Ultrasonic testing can be
load and frequency was applied to front main bearing. A performed on metals, nonmetals and composites. The X-
computer is used to monitor feedback signal when sample Ray machine or Gamma Radiation is the source of the rays
is under bending load. When crack initiates and propagates, and transmits penetrating X or Gamma Rays. The object
displacement amplitude also increases also the feedback being radiographed partially absorbs these rays. In areas
signal, computer automatically stop the process. After where there are flaws or breaks, a greater or smaller number
investigating the sample cracks are found initiates around of rays are able to penetrate. Because X and Gamma Rays
fillet area and propagating rapidly causing failure. are invisible, a detecting agent is required to produce a
visible picture. This detecting agent can be the radiographic
Yu et al. (2004) used resonance bending Fatigue test in film in light proof wrapping or a Digital image sensor.
order to investigate the effect of notch depth and
subsequently the fatigue.SAE J434C D5506 cast iron 5. FAILURE OF CRANKSHAFT (OTHER FACTORS)
crankshaft section were used in this investigation. Resonant Various other factors also play important role in mechanical
frequency before and after creation of notches were fatigue failure of crankshaft, such as, misalignment of
measured. In the experimental set up crankshaft section was crankshaft on assembly , improper journal bearing,
attached to heavy a steel tine which acts as tuning fork. The vibration due to some problem with main bearing or due to
right tin is excited by shaker. During testing oil is applied to high stress concentration caused by incorrect fillet size, oil
fillet area. For given bending moment excited by shaker leakage, overloading, high operating oil temperature(Silva,
probe, fatigue life is determined when four pin head sized 2003).Heat and stresses during contact bearing with
bubble are formed, at this point test was suspended. For repetition of heating and cooling would eventually create
result validation a 3 dimensional Finite Element model of thermal fatigue cracks and it will propagate with time.
resonant bending system with notched crankshaft was (Kareem, 2007) generated the data gathered by oral

427
interviews and questionnaires on mechanical failures of and displacement and stress were found out and compare by
crankshaft. The data collected were analyzed according to using mode superposition method and life was estimated by
vehicle type using statistical methods. The results obtained using Miner Rule. Khatri and Bhattacharya (2005)
showed that private cars enjoyed lowest fatigue failure rate developed a cycle for designing of the crankshaft of small
at the initial stage while commercial buses had the highest passenger car which also considered the effect of fatigue.
fatigue failures rate. Vibration created due gas force which CAD model of crankshaft had been developed to suit
drives crankpin can be reduced by providing damper existing engine block. Crankshaft was balanced using
package (William Sisco). multibody dynamics to minimize total mass .Basic CAD
model was then imported in ADAMS software and dummy
6. APPLICATION OF FEM IN FATIGUE masses were placed at probable location of counter weight
The use of numerical method such as Finite Element to check minimum unbalance. The gas forces were
Method now a day commonly used to gives detail extracted physically for various engine operations and at
information about structure or component. This method throttling position. Finite Element Analysis model was
predicts the behavior which is otherwise difficult to find out prepared by using PATRAN and load was applied and
by theoretical calculation, as large number of degree of maximum stress was found out. For fatigue analysis von
freedom involved in it. FEM can be used as excellent tool misses and mean stress have more influence than maximum
to analyze and find out fatigue life estimation of crankshaft stress, hence stress history of critical elements are more
by computer simulation and therefore it can help to reduce useful than static analysis of the crankshaft. For finding out
time and costs required for prototyping and to avoid von misses and mean stress. (Montazersadgh and Fatemi,
numerous test series when laboratory testing is not 2007a) conducted dynamic simulation on single cylinder
available. Since loading on crankshaft is complex in nature, four stroke engine and Finite Element analysis was
sophisticated analysis of crankshaft is required. Various performed to get stress magnitude at critical location. The
Finite Element analysis tool such as MSC-Fatigue, ANSYS, pressure volume diagram was used to calculate the load
FEMFAT etc are commonly used now a days by boundary conditions in dynamic simulation model. The
automobile companies to check durability of their products. dynamic analysis was done analytically and verified in
Renault Company (Henry et al, 1992) developed a new ADAMS software. FE model was created in ABAQUAS
crankshaft durability assessment tool based on 3D mesh, and boundary condition was applied according to engine
with an objective to improve fatigue analysis. These mounting conditions. It was found that torsional load was
approaches calculate fatigue factor of safety through very small as compared to other loads and hence neglected
external load calculation, mesh generation, FEM load and analysis was made simpler by applying inertia and gas
distribution to calculate stress and then FSF. The crankshaft forces. (Montazersadgh and Fatemi, 2007) concluded that
fillet stresses are highly localized and also the stress dynamic loading analysis gave more realistic result than
distribution inside a crankshaft of automotive engine is very static analysis and critical stress history plot found by using
complex. FEM could be is good tool for quantitative source rainflow counting cycle shows that in an entire cycle one
of data to find out stress distribution and Photo elasticity peak is important and cause fatigue damage in the
would be used to validation the results (Borges, et al, 2002) crankshaft. Other numerical techniques such as boundary
evaluates the overall structural efficiency and magnitude of element method was used for performing crack growth
stresses throughout the crank and found that localized stress analysis, as in this, stresses were calculated at surface of
concentration at crankpin bearing. A non linear transient structure and stress field could be calculated at crack front.
stress analysis for 6 cylinder inline engine crankshaft was Since boundary of components needed to be meshed, the
presented by (Payer et al, 1995) which shows that this complexity of meshing was significantly reduced. The new
method is highly sophisticated and efficient for determining approach presented in this article (Robert Adey,2004) of
the fatigue behaviors of crankshaft. (Payer et al, 1995) used NAFEMS enables a user to take an existing MSC
XFEP finite element program to call cute transient stress NASTRAN model and to facilitate automatically create a
behaviors of rotating crankshaft. Solid model of crankshaft model suitable for fatigue and crack growth prediction
is generated automatically considering both flywheel and without the need to be aware of the different analytical
vibration dampers using a rotating beam mass model of the techniques used. In this new approach the user could simply
crankshaft. This model also gives transient deformation of build a local (Robert Adey, 2004) model incorporating all
crankshaft the details necessary and the software would automatically
transfer all the necessary loads and boundary conditions
Prakash et al. (1998) used Finite element method and from MSC NASTRAN finite element model. While this
developed a program known as TVAL which quickly gives type of sub modeling was not entirely new, it had benefits
natural frequency, displacement and stresses. Three of providing the high fidelity stresses required for fatigue
different classes of engine crankshaft were considered for calculations as well as providing a model suitable for crack
study. Solid Finite element model of crankshaft was growth life prediction. Fatigue life Prediction achieved a
developed and time varying radial and tangential forces high level of accuracy because Finite Element Analysis is
were applied which were derived from cylinder pressure involved and because of increase in computational power
428
and good mesh density (Dannbuer et al, 2007), but input Taylor D., Zhoub W., Ciepalowiczb A.J., and Devlukia J.
data should be available and entered correctly. Software for 1999. Mixed-mode fatigue from stress concentration:
fatigue analysis has yielded good results which are An approach based on equivalent stress intensity,
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FEMFAT in which stresses from finite analysis are entered Paswan M.K., and Goel A.K. 2008. Fatigue testing
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