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Simulation of soil-blade interaction for sandy soil using advanced 3D finite element analysis

Abo-Elnor, Mootaz and Hamilton, R. and Boyle, James (2004) Simulation of soil-blade interaction for sandy soil using advanced 3D finite element analysis. Soil and Tillage Research, 75 (1). pp. 61-73. ISSN 0167-1987

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In this paper a finite element investigation of the tillage of dry sandy soil, using the hypoplastic constitutive material model, is described. In most earth moving machinery, such as bulldozers or tillage tools, the working tool is a blade. Hence for tillage systems, accurately predicting the forces acting on the blade is of prime importance in helping to enhance productivity. The initial conditions, such as blade geometry or soil type, and operating conditions, such as cutting speed and cutting depth, have been shown experimentally to have a great effect on machine productivity. Experimental studies give valuable insights but can be expensive and may be limited to certain cutting speeds and depths. Results are also highly dependent on the accuracy of the measuring devices. However with increasing computational power and the development of more sophisticated material models, finite element analysis shows more promise in analyzing the factors affecting soil-blade interaction. Most of the available finite element studies in the literature are two-dimensional or if three-dimensional (3D), are limited to a certain blade displacement depending on the element distortion limit before the solution has convergence problems. In this study, a 3D finite element analysis of soil-blade interaction was carried out based on predefined horizontal and vertical failure surfaces, to investigate the behavior of the soil-blade interface and study the effect of blade-cutting width and lateral boundary width on predicted forces. Sandy soil was considered in this study and modeled using the hypoplastic constitutive model implemented in a commercial finite code, 'ABAQUS'. Results reveal the validity of the concept of predefined failure surfaces in simulating soil-blade interaction and the significant effect of blade-cutting width, lateral boundary width and soil swelling on cutting forces.