Flexible joints in structural and multibody dynamics
Flexible joints, sometimes called bushing elements or force elements, are found in all structural and multibody dynamics codes. In their simplest form, flexible joints simply consist of sets of three linear and three torsional springs placed between two nodes of the model. For infinitesimal deformations, the selection of the lumped spring constants is an easy task, which can be based on a numerical simulation of the joint or on experimental measurements. If the joint undergoes finite deformations, identification of its stiffness characteristics is not so simple, specially if the joint is itself a complex system. When finite deformations occur, the definition of deformation measures becomes a critical issue. This paper proposes a family of tensorial deformation measures suitable for elastic bodies of finite dimension. These families are generated by two parameters that can be used to modify the constitutive behavior of the joint, while maintaining the tensorial nature of the deformation measures. Numerical results demonstrate the objectivity of the deformations measures, a feature that is not shared by the deformations measures presently used in the literature. The impact of the choice of the two parameters on the constitutive behavior of the flexible joint is also investigated.