Theoretical modelling of the sulcated spring

  • Faith Carter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Replacement of the traditional coil spring with one of more fibre-reinforced plastic sulcated springs is a future possibility. Spring designers of metallic coil springs have design formulae readily available, and software packages specific to coil spring design exist. However, the sulcated spring is at the prototype stage of development, so literature on these springs is very sparse. The thesis contains information on the market for sulcated springs, and their advantages and disadvantages. Literature on other types of fibre reinforced plastic springs has also been reviewed.
Design software has been developed for the sulcated spring along similar lines to coil spring design software. In order to develop the software, a theoretical model had to be developed which formed the mathematical basis for the software. The theoretical model is based on a choice of four methods for calculating the flexural rigidity; beam theory, plate theory, and lamination theory assuming isotropic and orthoropic material properties. Experimental results for strain and spring stiffness have been compared with the theoretical model, and were in good agreement.
Included in the design software are the results of experimental work on fatigue, and design limiting factors to prevent or warn against impractical designs. Finite element analysis has been used to verify the theoretical model developed, and to find the better approximation to the experimental results. Applications and types of assemblies for the sulcated spring were discussed. Sulcated spring designs for the automotive applications of a suspension, clutch and engine valve spring were found using the design computer software. These sulcated spring designs were within or close to the space of the existing coil spring and yield the same performance. Finally the commercial feasibility of manufacturing the sulcated spring was assessed and compared with the coil spring, to evaluate the plausibility of the sulcated spring replacing the coil spring eventually.
Date of AwardJan 1994
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorS. Murphy (Supervisor)


  • composite springs
  • sulcated spring
  • design software
  • composite spring literature review
  • fibre reinforced plastic

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