Fatigue Life Comparisons of Competing Manufacturing Processes: A Study of Steering Knuckle 2004-01-0628
A vehicle steering knuckle undergoes time-varying loadings during its service life. Fatigue behavior is, therefore, a key consideration in its design and performance evaluation. This research program aimed to assess fatigue life and compare fatigue performance of steering knuckles made from three materials of different manufacturing processes. These include forged steel, cast aluminum, and cast iron knuckles. In light of the high volume of forged steel vehicle components, the forging process was considered as base for investigation. Monotonic and strain-controlled fatigue tests of specimens machined from the three knuckles were conducted. Static as well as baseline cyclic deformation and fatigue properties were obtained and compared. In addition, a number of load-controlled fatigue component tests were conducted for the forged steel and cast aluminum knuckles. Finite element models of the steering knuckles were also analyzed to obtain stress distributions in each component. Based on the results of component testing and finite element analysis, fatigue behaviors of the three materials and manufacturing processes are then compared. It is concluded that the forged steel knuckle exhibits superior fatigue behavior, compared to the cast iron and cast aluminum knuckles.