Material Pre-Conditioning and Testing Techniques

A proper treatment of the rubber material service conditions and material degradation phenomena like strain softening is of prime importance in the testing of rubbers specimens for FEA material characterization. The accuracy and reliability of obtained test data depends on how the mechanical conditioning and representational service conditions of the material have been accounted for in the test data. To simulate a component in unused and unaged conditions, the mechanical conditioning requirements are different than the ones for simulating a component that has gone through extensive field service and aging under different
environmental conditions. To simulate performance of a material or component by Finite Element Analysis (FEA) it should be tested underthe same deformation modes to which original assembly will be subjected. The uniaxial tension tests are easy to perform and are fairly well understood but if the component assembly experiences complex multiaxial stress states then it becomes imperative to test in other deformation modes. Planar (pure shear), biaxial and volumetric (hydrostatic) tests need to be performed along with uniaxial tension test to incorporate the effects of multiaxial stress states in the FEA model.

Material stiffness degradation phenomena like Mullin’s effect at high strains and Payne’s effect at low strains significantly affect the stiffness properties of rubbers. After the first cycle of applied strain and recovery the material softens, upon subsequent stretching the stiffness is lower for the same applied strain. Despite all the history in testing hyperelastic and viscoelastic materials, there is a lack of a methodical and standard testing protocol for pre-conditioning. Comprehensive studies on the influence of hyperelastic material testing pre-conditioning is not available.