Optimization of a mono-composite leaf spring using a hybrid fiber-layup approach

  • Ryan Gaylo
  • Saeed Farahani
  • David Schmueser
  • Srikanth PillaEmail author
Original Paper


Conventional leaf springs are simple in design, utilizing multiple metallic bars (leaves) with low geometrical moment of inertia to generate an economical and linear spring rate. In its early form, the leaf-spring was manufactured using metals like steel, but, in modern applications, there exist composite leaves reinforced by advance glass and carbon fibers. Benefits of composite spring designs include: high specific strength, ability to form complex profiles, and possibility of subcomponent consolidation to reduce assembly. Due to the bending characteristics of the leaf spring, the axial load decreases through the beam thickness, reaching a minimum at the neutral surface. Given this fact, a design optimization approach for mono-composite leaf springs is developed considering a hybrid fiber-layup. Initially, a detailed topology optimization is conducted to optimize the geometry of the leaf spring based on the Tsai-Wu failure model. This process yielded a unique spring design which reduced the mass of the spring by 29% compared to the initial non-optimized spring and 80–90% compared to a steel spring. Subsequently, the design is further optimized by replacing low stress, high modulus reinforcement with lower modulus and cost-effective materials to improve overall vehicle mass, efficiency, and operation. The second stage of the optimization based on the hybrid fiber-layup approach resulted in an additional 7% mass reduction. As there is a connection between fuel efficiency and vehicle mass, the significant reduction of spring mass has a positive impact on vehicle fuel consumption and leads to suspension responsiveness gains. Moreover, the possibility of swapping up to 20% of the middle plies reinforcement with commodity plastics demonstrates the cost benefits of the hybrid fiber-layup design approach considering the high cost of carbon and other high-performance reinforcements.


Composite leaf springs Shape optimization Hybrid fiber-layup Multi-material design 



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Automotive EngineeringClemson UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  3. 3.Clemson Composites CenterClemson UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Mechanical EngineeringClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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