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Statistical modeling of a magneto-rheological fluid damper using the design

of experiments approach

Article  in  Smart Materials and Structures · July 2007

DOI: 10.1088/0964-1726/16/4/044


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2 authors:

Shivaram Ac Gangadharan K V
Applied Materials India Pvt Ltd National Institute of Technology Karnataka


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Smart Mater. Struct. 16 (2007) 1310–1314 doi:10.1088/0964-1726/16/4/044

Statistical modeling of a magneto-

rheological fluid damper using the design
of experiments approach
A C Shivaram and K V Gangadharan
Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Karnataka,
Surathkal, Mangalore 575025, India

E-mail: and

Received 30 March 2007, in final form 17 May 2007

Published 5 July 2007
Online at
In this work, a through-rod-type magneto-rheological (MR) test damper has
been designed and fabricated for experimental study. Various factors, such as
the magnetic field strength, volume fraction of particles in the MR fluid,
shearing gap between piston and cylinder, vibration frequency and amplitude,
have been considered as input factors, and the root-mean-square (RMS)
damping force as the output factor (response variable). These input factors
are varied in two levels (low and high) during the initial phase of
experimentation using 25 factorial design; the motivation is to identify the
most influential factors. In the second phase of experimentation, the response
surface method has been used to identify the modeling equation and to plot
the response surfaces. Further, force versus displacement diagrams have been
plotted at these factor levels; these give an insight into the damping behaviour
of the MR damper.
(Some figures in this article are in colour only in the electronic version)

1. Introduction a few fundamental design issues such as optimal volume

fraction, limitations on the fluid flow area when shearing
In the recent past, magneto-rhelogical (MR) and electro- happens, effect of vibration parameters like frequency and
rheological (ER) fluids have commanded a lot of research amplitude on the system performance, optimal carrier fluid,
interest because of their ability to change their flow resistance, effect of change in temperature, and possible segregation of
when exposed to magnetic or electric fields, respectively. particles during operation, have to be resolved. In this work,
Winslow (1947) patented his electro-fluid clutch, which was an attempt has been made to provide a better understanding of
designed to transmit mechanical movement or force, in these issues, by performing a series of experiments on an MR
response to an electrical potential. Further, he patented a test damper. The design of experiments (DOE) approach was
field-controlled hydraulic device, (Winslow 1953), marking used to organize the experimental runs, and to arrive at sensible
the invention and usage of MR fluids. Since then, various conclusions based on experimental results.
devices such as dampers, clutches, and brakes, have been
designed (Jolly et al 1998, Namuduri et al 2006, Ulicny et al
2007) and even used commercially in luxury car suspension 2. Experimental approach
system. Various mathematical modeling approaches such as
the Bingham model (Kamath et al 1996), biviscous model An MR fluid is a suspension of magnetically polarizable
(Wereley et al 2004), constitutive model (Choi et al 2005) and particles in an inert fluid medium like silicone oil. The
phenomenological models (Gandhi and Bullough 2005) have viscosity of an MR fluid would mainly depend on the carrying
been proposed in the literature, which could be of assistance medium, when the fluid is not exposed to a magnetic field.
in designing these MR devices. To achieve technological Its compatibility with magnetic material, damper and sealing
maturity and widespread commercial usage of such devices, materials is important from the engineering perspective, and its

0964-1726/07/041310+05$30.00 © 2007 IOP Publishing Ltd Printed in the UK 1310

Statistical modeling of an MR fluid damper

Table 1. List of factors that are believed to affect the performance of

an MR damper.
Factor Category
Volume fraction Fluid
Shearing gap Device design
Magnetic field strength Controllable
Frequency Working environment
Amplitude Working environment
Temperature Working environment
Carrying medium Fluid
Particle material and size Fluid
Coating material and size Fluid
Figure 1. Damper used for testing.

temperature dependence is what decides the MR fluid’s overall

thermal stability. On exposure to a magnetic field, the particles
get polarized and align along the flux lines, forming chain-like
structures. The formation of such chain-like structures would
induce additional flow resistance, which directly depends on
the magnetic field strength. When there is no magnetic field,
the particles have a tendency to settle down due to gravity. To
avoid settling of the particles, different coating materials like
fumed silica (Iyengar and Foister 2002) and guar gum (Fang
et al 2005) have been tried out, which adds to the complexity
of chain formation. Though these coatings improve the settling
behaviour, they change the dynamic yield strength of the fluid
(Wu et al 2006). The volume fraction of particles in the fluid
is another important factor which influences the yield strength
of the fluid. Apart from these fluid factors, device factors like
Figure 2. Block diagram of the test set-up.
the shearing gap, vibration frequency and amplitude are also
believed to affect the performance of an MR damper. Any
change in shearing gap would not only change the damping
constant in the off condition, but also alter the magnetic flux The motivation behind the second stage of experiments was
distribution. Vibration frequency and amplitude, which can be to determine the modeling function which can predict the
attributed to the working environment, will decide the fluid RMS damping force at the given factor levels, and to plot
shearing rate, thus determining the damping force. Choice the response surfaces, which show how the response variable
of particle material is mainly governed by its permeability, (RMS damping force) varies with change in the considered
manufacturability and cost. Increasing particle size would factors. Such response surfaces would be useful in identifying
aggravate the settling issue; however, Cox et al (2006) have the optimal factor levels during the design stage, in performing
shown that decreasing particle size would actually decrease sensitivity analysis for control purposes, and in operating with
the yield strength. Particle size and shape is another important maximum efficiency in running conditions. Further, force
factor. Even though controlling the particle shape is practically versus displacement diagrams have been plotted, which give
difficult (at micron levels), a few mathematical simulations an insight into the energy dissipation phenomenon in an MR
(Klingenberg et al 2005) have been done to study the shape damper.
and size effects. All these factors have been summarized in
table 1, and the first five have been considered for this initial 3. Experimental set-up
study. A further detailed study will be made involving all the
factors in the near future. The experimental set-up consists of a through rod type MR
Design of experiments (DOE) has been used to organize test damper shown in figure 1, mounted on an electrodynamic
experimental runs, and to arrive at sensible conclusions from shaker. The piston rod was connected to a fixed support
the experimental data. Experimentation was done in two through a force transducer. The damper base displacement was
stages, the first stage using 2n full factorial design and the measured using a non-contact-type laser displacement pick-up.
second stage using the response surface method (Montgomery Both force and displacement signals were digitized and stored
2003). The damper set-up was mounted on an electro-dynamic using a PC-based data-acquisition system running Labview.
shaker and was subjected to sinusoidal displacement input. A block diagram of the set-up is shown in figure 2 and a
In the first stage all factors were varied in two levels (low photograph is shown in figure 3. The MR fluid was prepared in
and high) and the RMS damping force was measured as the house by mixing different proportions of carbonyl iron powder
response variable. The motivation behind these experiments (average size 10 µm) with silicone oil, and stirring it in an
was to identify the factors having significant influence on emulsifier. The damper was filled with freshly stirred fluid just
the damping force. Once the most influential factors were before the experiment, and the testing lasted for a few minutes
identified, they were varied in three levels in the second stage. at a stretch without any noticeable change in temperature.

A C Shivaram and K V Gangadharan

Half-Normal Plot

Half-Normal % Probability |Standardized Effect|

Figure 3. Photograph of the test set-up.
Figure 4. Half normal plot.

Table 2. Factor levels for 25 factorial design. Table 3. Factorial analysis effects list.
Factors Low High
A—volume fraction (%) 10 40 Term Effect SumSqr % contribution
B—shearing gap (mm) 1.5 2.5 A—volume fraction 1.5248 54.5286 15.4082
C—magneto-motive 0 120 B—shearing gap −0.3139 2.3116 0.6531
force (MMF) C—magneto-motive force 2.5920 157.5810 44.5279
(ampere-turns) D—frequency −1.3466 42.5287 12.0174
D—frequency (Hz) 0.2 8 E—stroke 0.3104 2.6526 0.7495
E—stroke (mm) 1 3 AB −0.1341 0.4217 0.1191
Response variable RMS damping AC 0.5721 7.6773 2.1694
force AD −0.3973 3.4384 0.9716
AE 0.2597 1.3854 0.3914
BC −0.1109 0.2887 0.0815
BD −0.0549 0.1304 0.0368
4. Results and discussion BE −0.2415 1.2641 0.3572
CD −0.7763 14.1357 3.9943
Initially five factors were varied in two levels, force and CE 0.0994 0.3498 0.0988
displacement data were acquired and the RMS damping force DE 0.0556 0.1505 0.0425
was used as the response variable for factorial analysis. These ABC 0.6098 8.7235 2.4650
ABD −0.3487 2.8472 0.8045
factors and their levels are summarized in table 2. Magneto-
motive force was used instead of field strength, as it has a direct
bearing on the field strength and also it is simple to measure As expected, factorial analysis suggests that volume
and control. fraction (A) and MMF (C) have a significant influence on the
To identify the most important factors, a graph showing RMS damping force of an MR damper. Further, it also suggests
least-square estimates of effects and their half-normal that the contribution of frequency (D) could not be neglected.
probabilities (Montgomery 2003) was plotted. Statistics The other two factors, shearing gap (B) and stroke (E), did
suggests that the larger the effect of a particular factor, the not have much effect (within the considered range) on the
larger will be its deviation from a straight line in a half-normal RMS damping force. With these observations as the base, the
plot. Figure 4 shows such a half-normal plot of the above- shearing gap and stroke were held constant and the other three
considered factors and their interactions. From this figure, one factors were considered for the next phase of experimentation.
can observe that factor C (MMF) is most influential, followed The response surface method was used to organize this phase
by factors A (volume fraction) and D (frequency). Along with and face centered central composite design was used to decide
individual factors, their interactions (such as CD, ABC, and the factor levels (Montgomery 2003). The factors considered
AC) also have a considerable influence on the RMS damping and their levels are summarized in table 4.
force. From statistical analysis, the individual effects of these Power transformation has been used to accommodate large
factors and their interactions have been found out, along with differences between minimum and maximum values of the
their percentage contributions. These data are tabulated in response variable. A transformation factor of −1/2 was used
table 3. based on a Box–Cox plot (Montgomery 2003). Figure 5 shows

Statistical modeling of an MR fluid damper

1/Sqrt(Damping Force (RMS))

1/Sqrt(Damping Force (RMS))

C: Frequency A: Volume fraction

(a) MMF v/s Frequency (b) MMF v/s Volume fraction

Figure 5. Response surfaces.

Table 4. Factor levels for the response surface method using central composite design.
Factors Low Mid High
A—volume fraction 10% 25% 40%
B—magneto-motive force 0 ampere-turns 60 ampere-turns 120 ampere-turns
C—frequency 4 Hz 6 Hz 8 Hz
Shearing gap Held constant At 2 mm
Stroke Held constant At 3 mm

the response surfaces of damping force−1/2 versus MMF, like a viscous fluid (Tang and Conrad 1996). As a result,
frequency and volume fraction. From this graph one can with increase in frequency, the damper performance resembles
observe that there is a strong nonlinear relationship between more the hysteretic damping of an viscoelastic material. This
the response variable and the three considered factors. As understanding is very important when designing MR dampers
expected, it suggests that high volume fraction and high MMF for different applications like structural (around 0.1–1 Hz),
will result in high damping force; however, it also suggests automotive (around 0.1–10 Hz) or machine vibration isolation
that such a behaviour is frequency dependent. The lower the applications (around 0.1–10 000 Hz). The same can be
frequency, the larger is the RMS damping force. observed from figure 6.
Equation (1) shows the quadratic modeling equation
obtained from the response surface method. It predicts the
RMS damping force of an MR damper within the considered 5. Summary
factor range.
• An experimental study based on the design of experiments
Damping force−1/2 = +0.199 36 + 9.784 82 × 10−4 × A was conducted, to identify factors that have a significant
− 2.083 68 × 10−4 × B − 0.018 513 × C influence on the RMS damping force of an MR damper.
− 1.857 80 × 10−6 × A × B − 3.000 77 × 10−5 × A × C • As expected, certain factors, namely the magnetic field
+ 8.172 17 × 10−6 × B × C − 3.925 44 × 10−5 × A2 strength and volume fraction of particles in the fluid, were
found to have a significant influence on the RMS damping
− 1.079 44 × 10−6 × B2 + 1.933 76 × 10−3 × C2 . (1)
Figure 6 shows force versus displacement diagrams at • Further, a significant correlation between vibration
different factor levels. From these diagrams it can be observed frequency and RMS damping force was observed.
that, as the frequency increases from 0.2 to 8 Hz, the damping
• At low frequency, the damping nature was more like a
nature changes from Coulomb to hysteretic. Similar results
Coulomb damping, which gradually changed to hysteretic
have been obtained by Snyder et al (2001) and Gamota
nature as the frequency increased.
and Filisko (1991) at various frequencies, however only for
the flows which are predominantly in the pre-yield regime • This frequency dependence would have a lot of bearing
(Sprecher et al 1987). For a given shearing gap, as the on the choice of damping materials to be used in different
oscillating frequency increases, the strain rate also increases. applications.
This would result in a significant portion of the strain cycle • A statistical modeling equation has been formulated based
being spent in the post-yield regime. It has been observed on the experimental data, which can predict the RMS
that MR fluid behaviour in the post-yield regime is more damping force of an MR damper.

A C Shivaram and K V Gangadharan

• Further, a detailed study to probe this frequency

dependence is under consideration.

The current work has been sponsored by a research grant,
MHRD, Government of India and TEQIP-NITK. This
assistance is gratefully acknowledged.

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