Model Verification and Structural Stiffness Evaluation for Utility Vehicle Frame Structure

       The strength of vehicle frame structure is a major concern for safety. This work applies computer aided engineering (CAE) and experimental modal analysis (EMA) techniques to study a utility vehicle (UV) frame structure. The idea of model verification is presented for validating the developed analytical model created by finite element (FE) commercial software. The FE model of UV frame structure is first built to perform modal analysis so as to obtain structural natural frequencies and mode shapes. The UV frame structure is also performed EMA to experimentally determine the structural modal parameters in free boundary condition. By comparing both modal parameters obtained from FEA and EMA, the FE model can be validated base on the experimentally obtained data. The modal characteristics of the UV frame structure can be well interpreted and calibrated. The bending and torsion stiffness of the frame structure can then be predicted by the validated FE model. This work shows the integration of FEA and EMA techniques for structural model verification and response prediction, in particular applied to the UV frame structure. The layout approach can not only be beneficial to vehicle structural design as well as for structural strength evaluation but also be adopted for other components or subsystem study. 

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