Consideration of heat treatment in simulations of structural components and its impact on predictions of behaviour during operation is analysed here. An automotive machine element with a complex geometry and dynamic load is analysed rather than a standard laboratory specimen under controlled conditions. The heat treatment analysis of a starter clutch barrel has been performed in DANTE followed by a structural analysis in ANSYS 2019 R3 during operation simulating a load cycle due to the start of an internal combustion engine. The heat treatment simulation consisted of carburisation, quenching and tempering. First, the carbon content and its distribution have been simulated. Next, the hardness of the starter clutch barrel and its distribution have been analysed with respect to the carbon distribution and hardness-dependent material properties of the AISI/SAE 4142 steel. Finally, the stress field after the heat treatment and during the operation of the starter clutch barrel has been thoroughly evaluated and compared to the simulation without the consideration of the heat treatment. Results of the simulation show that the heat treatment introduces favourable compressive stresses at the critical location of the starter clutch barrel and reduces the effective amplitude of the equivalent stress during the operation. Furthermore, the results of the simulation prove that heat treatment should be considered already during the early stages of the R & D process as it can have a decisive effect on the operational behaviour of the structural component. Moreover, a non-consideration of the heat treatment can lead into erroneous conclusions regarding the suitability of machine elements.
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