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A Study of Mechanical Behavior of Bellows by Digital Image Correlation

and Strain Gages

T.Y. Chen, C.H. Lee, Y-C Chen*, and K-L Shih*


National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan 70101
ctyf@mail.ncku.edu.tw
*Cherng Duey Industrial Corp., Ta-Liao, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

ABSTRACT
Bellows are special structures that require high strength as well as good flexibility. The design, manufacture, and analysis
of bellow tubes thus are more complicated. Test of bellows to understand their mechanical behavior, and to verify a design
purpose finite element program is needed for practical use. In this paper, digital-image-correlation method is applied to
measure the stiffness of single- and double-ply bellows under axial compressive load and various internal pressures. The
influence of the internal pressure on the stiffness of the bellows is investigated. The meridian and hoop strains at the crest
of the bellows are measured by strain gages. The results show that tensile meridian and hoop strains on the single-ply
bellows are found as expected. However, the compressive meridian strain is found on the double-ply bellows.
1.

Introduction

Expansion joints are frequently used in the pressure vessels or piping system for the purpose of connection and
compensation. Bellows is one of the most important components in the expansion joint, and has the function to absorb
regular or irregular expansion and contraction in the system. Since bellows requires high strength as well as good flexibility,
the design, manufacture, and analysis of bellows thus are more complicated than the other general tube structures [1, 2].
Bellows should be considered to be springs. The axial
spr
i
ngr
at
esreferred as axial
st
i
f
f
nessof the expansion joint must
be supplied by the manufacturer. According to EJMA standard, once the axial stiffness is known, the lateral and bending
rates can be calculated based on the expansion joint geometry [3]. The stiffness depends heavily on the mechanical
properties of the material, on the specific forming method, and the post-forming processes. It is necessary to test the
bellows experimentally to obtain the stiffness and to understand their mechanical behavior. Furthermore the experimental
data can be used to verify a design purpose finite element program [4] for practical use.
Conventional measurement of stiffness of bellows is made roughly by hand, which might not be accurate and reliable. In
this paper, digital-image-correlation method is applied to measure the axial deformation of bellows under compression and
various internal pressure, and to determine the stiffness. The influence of internal pressure on the stiffness of single- and
double-ply bellows is investigated. Further comparisons of the meridian and hoop strains of the two bellows by using the
strain gages are reported.
2.

Principle of Digital Image-Correlation Measurement

Digital Image correlation (DIC) has been used in a wide range of areas that include constitutive property measurement in
complex materials, fracture mechanics, biomechanics, etc.. Both 2D and 3D image-correlation methods have been shown
to be a robust and accurate tool for deformation measurement. The basis of 2D image correlation for the measurement of
surface displacement is the matching of one point from the undeformed image to a point on the deformed image of an
obj
ect

ssur
f
ace[5]. By adopting the bi-cubic spline image interpolation [6] and Newton-Raphson approaches [7], a
software program written by LabView was developed and evaluated for translation measurement using a 4141 pixels
subset [8]. A Pc-based image processing system with a resolution of 640X480 pixels was used to grab and process the
undeformed and deformed images. An accuracy of of 0.03pixels with a standard deviation of 0.015 pixels is achieved by a
translation test.
3.

Experimental procedure

The specimens tested are U-shaped bellows expansion joints, made of stainless steel SUS 304. Test bellows of six
convolutions with single-ply and two-ply were formed with hydraulic pressure. Figure 1 shows the typical shape of the

bellows and the fabricated ones. Bellows were welded on flanges. The geometric properties of the tested specimens are
given in Table 1. Figure 2 shows the typical distribution of thickness measured and calculated by EJMA in the fabricated
bellows specimen from the root to the crest of longitudinal convolution. It can be seen that the reduction of thickness
increased from the root to the crest. The reduction is quite different between the specimen and the one calculated by
EJMA.
The specimen was fixed on large plates by bolts. The movement of one end was controlled by a servo hydraulic system
and the force was measured by a load cell (Fig. 3). The deformed images of both ends were taken for displacement
measurement by image correlation. To successfully use DIC, the surface of specimen was painted black with white dots
that produces varying intensities of diffusely reflected light. Strains were measured by the strain gages at the crest. Tests
have been performed under application of axial compression and under application of axial compression together with
internal pressure. The axial compressive loads were applied gradually from 0 kN to 8.6 KN. The data were recorded every
0.13 kN to 0.22 kN depend on the type of bellows. Internal pressure tests were conduct under various levels of pressure:
196, 392, and 588 kPa.
4.

Experimental Results and Discussion

Figure 4 and 5 shows the test results of the load-deformation test for six convolutions, single- and double-ply bellows,
respectively. It can be seen from the two figures that the deformation behavior is quite similar for the two bellows. The
deformation increases as the load is increased. For bellows under axial load only, the relation between the deformation
and load is not linear. However, as the internal pressure is added, bellows becomes stiffer and the load-deformation
relation also becomes more linear as the pressure increased. The reason is that the internal pressure added against the
deformation due to axial compression. The stiffness calculated from the experimental data is plotted in Fig. 6. It can be
observed that the stiffness of double-ply bellows is about 0.35 times to that of the single-ply with axial load only. When the
internal pressure is added, the stiffness of both bellows increases as the pressure is increased. However, the stiffness
approaches to a constant value of 1000 kPa because local yielding on the bellows decreases the global stiffness of
bellows, and the stiffness ratio of the two bellows approaches to 1.
The measured meridian and hoop strains of both bellows under axial load are plotted in Figs 7 and 8. For single-ply
bellows (Fig. 7), the meridian strain stemmed is much larger than the hoop strain, and both are tensile strain. However, for
double-ply bellows (Fig. 8), the meridian strain is found compressive, which can be considered to be caused by the contact
of inner and outer plies. Moreover the contact of inner and outer plies may also be the reason for the reduction of stiffness
of double-ply bellows higher than the theoretical value of 0.25 of the single-ply bellows tested.
5.

Conclusions

Digital image correlation and strain gages have been successfully applied to study the mechanical behavior of single- and
double-ply bellows under axial load and various internal pressures. The following conclusions were obtained:
1. Load-deformation relation of bellows under axial load is not linear. Thus the stiffness value should be used with care
for design purpose.
2. As the internal pressure is applied, the stiffness and the linearity of load-deformation of bellows are increased as the
internal pressure is increased.
3. Although the double-ply bellows is more flexible with its stiffness down to 0.35 of the single-ply bellows under axial
compressive load, the stiffness of double[-ply bellows increases and approaches to the same level (1000 kPa) as the
single-ply ones when the internal pressure is larger than 392 kPa.
4. Compressive meridian strain is found in testing double-ply bellows, which is considered to be caused by the contact of
inner and outer plies and makes the stiffness of double-ply bellows higher than the theoretical ones.
6.

Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to the National Science Council of the Republic of China for supporting this research under the
grant NSC 922622E006124CC3.
7.

References

1. Design of Piping Systems, The M.W. Kellogg Company, USA (1967).


2. EJMA, Standards of Expansion Join Manufacturers Association Inc., 6th edition, New York (1993).
3. Edgar, D.L. and Paulin, A.W.,
Modeling Metallic Bellows Type Expansion Jionts in a Computerized Pipe Flexibility
Analysis,
ASME,Met
al
l
i
cBellows and Expansion Joints, PVP 168, pp. 57-65 (1989).
4.Becht
,C.
,
Fat
i
gueofBel
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I
nt
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nat
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ur
eVessels and Piping, 77, pp.
843-850 (2000).
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ances i
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Comput
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omechani
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s,ed.byP.K. Rastogi, pp.323-372, Springer, London(1999).
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B.
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cubi
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i
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cat
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Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, 2004.

Figure 1 Bellows shape and product

Table 1 Geometries of the 6 convolutions bellows (unit: mm)


Type

Total length

Single-ply

40

45

200

1.2

300

Double-ply

40

45

200

0.6

300

Thickness(mm)

1.3

EJMA modified

1.2

specimen

1.1
1
0.9
0.8
0.7
0

Location
Figure 2 Comparison of thickness distribution between the specimen and calculated by EJMA .

Figure 3. Test device

9
8

Load kN)

7
6
5

internal pressure = 0 kPa

4
3

internal pressure = 196 kPa

internal pressure = 392 kPa

internal pressure = 588 kPa

0
0

10

15

20

25

30

35

Deformation (mm)

Figure 4. Load-deformation test results for six convolutions, single-ply bellows.

Load kN)

9
8

internal pressure = 0 kPa

internal pressure = 196 kPa

6
5

internal pressure = 392 kPa

internal pressure = 588 kPa

3
2
1
0
0

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

Deformation (mm)
Figure 5. Load-deformation test results for six convolutions, double-ply bellows.

(
Stiffness kN/m)

1200
1000
800
600
400

single-ply

200

double-ply

0
0

200

400

600

800

Internal pressure (kPa)


Figure 6. Influence of internal pressure on the bellows
stiffness.

8
7

Load (kN)

6
5
4

meridian

hoop

2
1
0
0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

1400

1600

Strain (micro)
Figure 7.

The measured meridian and hoop strains of single-ply bellows

2.5

Load(kN)

2
1.5
1
0.5
0
-400

-350

-300

-250

-200

-150

-100

-50

Strain(micro)
Figure 8. The measured meridian strains of double-ply bellows