Efficient Finite Element Modeling of Steel Cables in Reinforced Rubber

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Spiral steel cables feature complex deformation behavior due to their wound geometry. In applications where the cables are used to reinforce rubber components, modeling the cables is not trivial, because the cable’s outer surface must be connected to the surrounding rubber material. There are several options for modeling steel cables using beam and/or solid elements for the cable. So far, no study that lists and evaluates the performance of such approaches can be found in the literature. This work investigates such modeling options for a simple seven-wire strand that is regarded as a cable. The setup, parameter calibration, and implementation of the approaches are described. The accuracy of the obtained deformation behavior is assessed for a three-cable specimen using a reference model that features the full geometry of the wires in the three cables. It is shown that a beam approach with anisotropic beam material gives the most accurate stiffness results. The results of the three-cable specimen model indicate that such a complex cable model is quite relevant for the specimen’s deformation. However, there is no single approach that is well suited for all applications. The beam with anisotropic material behavior is well suited if the necessary simplifications in modeling the cable–rubber interface can be accepted. The present work thus provides a guide not only for calibrating but also for selecting the cable-modeling approach. It is shown how such modeling approaches can be used in commercial FE software for applications such as conveyor belts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number152
Number of pages20
Journal Journal of composites science
Issue number6
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • finite element modeling
  • homogenization methods
  • steel cables
  • steel-cable-reinforced rubber

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