Finite Element Analysis of Train Wheel Using Abaqus

This project was part of the coursework for a technical elective I took on Finite Element Analysis. The task was to optimize a steel train and wheel axle using the FEA software Abaqus, and to understand the inputs, outputs, and limitations of the software.

Using the results of the analysis I optimized the profile of the wheel iteratively. 6 holes were cut into the sides of the wheel reducing its weight by 0.37kg, and the profile of the wheel at its outer edge was redesigned to prevent yielding.

I took great care in ensuring the correct material properties and simulation parameters were used in the analysis. Symmetry was used to reduce the amount of computational effort required.
External loads were determined by considering the worst case scenario, when the train is taking a sharp turn. 150kN vertical and 27kN lateral loads were applied to the axle, while the wheel was constrained.
Using edge seeding and partitioning, I meshed the entire geometry using quadratic hex elements. Although more difficult to mesh, these elements are superior to tetrahedral elements in computational effort and accuracy. This model has 15,000 elements. Element aspect ratio and skew angle were checked, and a mesh convergence study run to ensure accurate results.
The profile of the wheel was optimized iteratively to reduce the amount of local yielding seen at its contact point with the rail.
Final wheel profile

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