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Finite Elements in Analysis and Design 37 (2001) 273}286

Design optimization of rigid metal containers


Jyhwen Wang
Technology Center, Weirton Steel Corporation, 3006 Birch Drive, Weirton, WV 26062, USA

Abstract Evaluating the structural capability of a food container has been viewed as a challenging task. With more powerful computer hardware and software, "nite element methods are now in place for e$cient and accurate assessment of axial load and paneling performances of cans. Thus, the metal container optimization problem is tackled with FEA tools. In this paper, the structure tests and numerical simulation methods are presented. The e!ects of design parameters on the structure performance of containers are discussed. A design optimization method is then developed based on the solution of point inclusion problem in computational geometry. The iterative planar subdivision algorithm generates the optimal design that meets the structure requirements with least material consumption. The proposed method can be used to optimize the existing and new metal containers. 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Container design; Optimization

1. Introduction The development of tin can was started by Nicholas Appert in 1790s' for preserving food to sustain Napoleon's army. Appert, a Parisian chef and confectioner, collected the 12,000 francs award for his new process of canning [1]. Today metal containers have become commonly used for food packaging. It is estimated that 30 billion food cans are made annually in the United States. With the huge production volume, the can industry is aggressively developing new technologies to reduce costs. Cost improvements that seem minuscule per container may actually result in signi"cant savings. Resource (input material) reduction is one of the most powerful means in cost reduction for can makers. What should not be compromised in material reduction are the structural capabilities of the container. There are three major structural requirements for metal food cans: axial load, paneling, and bulge and buckle requirements. These structure capabilities for can bodies and lids are imposed by food packaging and processing conditions.
0168-874X/01/$ - see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 1 6 8 - 8 7 4 X ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 4 3 - 3

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Fig. 1. Sti!eners (beads) on a metal container.

After the food is "lled into a can, the body and the lid are assembled/seamed together. During the seaming process, the can body is subjected to an axial compressive force. Also, the containers are generally stacked up in many layers during shipping. The cans in the bottom layer are subjected to the combined weight and dynamic loads of the cans in the layers above. These two conditions prescribe the axial load requirement. The sterilization process leads to the bulge/buckle and the paneling requirements. When the food container is processed in high temperature, the internal pressure increases. The bulge/buckle requirement ensures that there is no permanent deformation on the top and bottom of the can. In e!ect, the lids act like diaphragms, expanding during retorting and turning to a slightly concave shape after thermal processing [2]. The container is usually under vacuum loading after cooling. That is, the internal pressure is less than the atmospheric pressure due to condensation. The paneling requirement prevents the can wall to collapse under vacuum. It is a common practice that sti!eners (beads), as shown in Fig. 1, are added to the wall to enhance paneling performance. The axial load and the paneling requirements tend to be con#icting objectives in can design. With no beads, a straight wall can generally has good axial load but inferior paneling performance. On the other hand, the axial load will drop and the paneling pressure will be enhanced as the bead depth increases. Thus, the designer's ultimate objective is to maximize both the axial load and the paneling performances; while minimizing the wall thickness to reduce material usage. Previous e!orts were mostly made in analyzing known designs using di!erent analysis methods. Sodeik and Sauer [3] investigated the mechanical behavior of the food can during sterilization. Analytical models were developed to predict the axial load and paneling performances. Traversin

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et al. [4] conducted "nite element analyses and experiments to evaluate food containers. With a special focus, the in#uence of geometrical variations has been studied. Kahrs and his colleagues [5] investigated the bead depth e!ects on axial load and paneling performances. It was shown that "nite element techniques could predict the axial load with good accuracy. However, an empirical factor was used to correct the di!erence in paneling between FEA and experiment. The applicability of FEA on bead forming, axial load, and paneling simulations was investigated by Jones et al. [6]. The simulations were conducted by using an explicit FEA code. The study highlights the importance of non-axisymmetric conditions in the real world cases. It was found that none of the above-mentioned references addressed the design issues of metal containers. In this paper, "nite element modeling techniques are used to analyze the axial load and the paneling performances. The in#uences of the design parameters on the structure performance are investigated. Moreover, a systematic design strategy is presented. Given the performance requirements and a preliminary design, the iterative design cycles will lead the search of optimal wall thickness and bead depth. The proposed methodology can be used to optimize existing and new metal containers.

2. Container structural analyses Traditionally, optimization of metal containers has been a tedious and costly process. The activities involve iterative and extensive design, tooling fabrication, can making, and performance evaluation. Advances in computer technology and computational mechanics have resulted in e!ective and e$cient methods to predict the structure capability of cans. In this paper, two typical container testing procedures } axial load and paneling tests, are simulated using "nite element analysis. 2.1. Axial load analysis The axial load test simulates the loading condition during double seaming and transport. In this test, the sample is placed between a "xed horizontal plate and a platform as shown in Fig. 2. During the test, the platform is pushed up, and sensors are attached to record the vertical compressive load. As the can sample buckles, the sudden drop of the load (force) will be registered as the axial load performance. The failures often take place at the radius of a bead, and circumferential post buckling failure has been observed. Generally, the axial load requirement ranges from 2220 to 3560 N (500 to 800 lbs). The material properties, the wall thickness and the bead depth are known to a!ect axial load performance. An analytical model based on bending formulation was developed [3] to predict the axial load performance. It was found that a more realistic and accurate prediction could be obtained through 3-D explicit "nite element simulation [6]. The result of explicit dynamic code is rate-dependent, and the computational cost is high due to small time step. Thus, it is suggested to use nonlinear, implicit "nite element code to simulate axial load test. In the implicit, quasi-static analysis, the displacement of the platform was prescribed, and the reaction force on the can was calculated. Both 2-D axisymmetric and 3-D analyses were tried using ABAQUS in this study. A 2-D model cannot fully describe the manufacturing variations exist in the test samples. It often over-predicts

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Fig. 2. Axial load test.

(about 10%) the axial load capability. As the interest is in design optimization, true structure capability should be evaluated. The less time consuming 2-D axisymmetric analysis is adopted. Fig. 3 shows a typical result of FEA axial load simulation. The model was constructed using axisymmetric shell element. The element size ranges from 0.28 to 1.04 mm. The bead geometry was represented by at least four elements. Rick's method was used, and the analysis predicted the onset of collapse (drop in reaction force) at about 2080 N which agrees reasonably well with the experiment. 2.2. Paneling analysis The paneling test simulates a food container under vacuum loading after retorting process. The test is conducted in a chamber where an empty and seamed metal container is placed on a plate. Air is pumped into the sealed chamber as shown in Fig. 4. During pressure ramp up, the top and bottom lids usually turn concave "rst, then the can body collapses. The pressure reading at this moment is referred to as paneling performance. The can usually exhibits three or four circumferential waves after buckling. Depending on the "lling and processing conditions, the paneling requirement can range from 140 to 240 kPa (20 to 35 psi). It is known that the can size, the aspect ratio, the body wall thickness, the bead geometry, and the bead pattern all in#uence paneling performance. An analytical model based on buckling analysis of thin-walled pipe was developed in Ref. [3]. As the can geometry is more complicated than, and the loading is di!erent from that of pipe, the model describes paneling only su$ciently well. Explicit dynamic (shown in Fig. 5) and implicit quasi-static analyses were conducted. It was also found that both methods are not e!ective for paneling simulation. Instead, paneling prediction is obtained from linearized buckling eigenvalue analysis using ABAQUS. Axisymmetric shell element similar to the axial load analysis was again used for paneling simulation. The analysis predicts the load at which the onset of buckling instability

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Fig. 3. FEA simulation result of an axial load test.

Fig. 4. Paneling test equipment.

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Fig. 5. FEA simulation result of paneling test.

occurs. Both the buckling load factors and buckled modes can be obtained. Studies showed that predictions are generally 8}15% higher than actual experiments. One main assumption in this type of analysis is that displacement prior to buckling is considered small. As the lids buckle (to concave) before side wall paneling, this shape change is prescribed in the model to eliminate the unwanted lid buckling modes.

3. E4ects of design parameters Given a required "ll volume, engineers have a few standard can sizes to choose from. With standard heights and diameters, costly changeover of conveyor system in a can plant can be eliminated. Once the can height and diameter are "xed, the design parameters now include bead con"guration (number of beads and bead spacing), bead depth, and wall thickness. The in#uence of these parameters on the structure performance is investigated. 3.1. Ewect of bead conxguration The bead con"guration does not have a signi"cant in#uence on the axial load, but plays a major role in paneling performance. Beads are designed to sti!en the unsupported wall section to increase paneling pressure. For a given number of beads, Fig. 6 shows that there exists an optimal bead spacing. Increasing the number of beads will increase the paneling pressure. However, the e!ect levels o! as shown in Fig. 7. Selection of bead con"guration is not a pure engineering issue. It is related to the appearance of the container and marketing concerns (presentation, graphics) that are included in the decision-making process.

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Fig. 6. E!ect of bead spacing.

Fig. 7. E!ect of the number of beads.

3.2. Ewect of bead depth Bead design that improves the axial load will generally lead to the deterioration of paneling performance, and vice versa. Axial load vs. bead depth and paneling pressure vs. bead depth are characterized in Fig. 8. In this study, a 7-bead, 401;508 (diameter: 99.57 mm, height: 136.27 mm) was used. The material thickness was 0.16 mm.

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Fig. 8. E!ect of bead depth.

3.3. Ewect of material thickness It can be observed that as the wall thickness decreases, both axial load and paneling performances will su!er. Fig. 9 shows the paneling pressure and axial load as functions of the metal thickness. The same 7-bead can in the previous bead depth study was used, and the bead depth was set at 1.27 mm. 4. Design optimization The objective of design optimization is to minimize the material usage while satisfying both the axial load and the paneling requirements can be met. Thus, the optimization problem can be represented as Min t s.t. f (X )'F ,    f (X )'P ,   

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Fig. 9. E!ect of material thickness.

where t is the metal thickness, f and f are the axial load and paneling performances, X and    X are the sets of design parameters that in#uence axial load and paneling, and F and P are    the axial load force and paneling pressure requirements. Unfortunately, even with the trends presented earlier, there are no known functions to describe f and f exactly. Therefore, a design optimization procedure based on "nite element analysis is   developed to obtain the "nal design (as shown in Fig. 10). In this process, the can size is "rst established based on required "ll (packaging) volume. The fully beaded structure is then constructed since it provides the best paneling performance. However, other bead con"gurations can be adopted to address the appearance issue. The lower and upper bounds of the bead depth are [0, d ], where 0 indicates straight wall (no bead), and  d is the maximum achievable depth in beading process. The thickness is between [0, t ], where   t is the maximum acceptable wall thickness from cost calculation. Before entering the optimiza  tion routine, the bead depth and material thickness are assigned arbitrarily between the lower and upper bounds. The axial load and paneling capabilities of the initial design is evaluated. The iterative search based on FEA results will lead to a converged optimal solution. Thus, the number of beads, bead spacing, the bead depth, and the metal thickness are determined.

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Fig. 10. Design optimization procedure.

4.1. FEA-based optimization The optimization iteration involves the search for material thickness and bead depth to meet the structural requirements. As shown in Fig. 11, the known axial load and paneling requirements divide the constraint (performance) space into quadrants (Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4). Feasible solutions lie in the "rst quadrant. Before the procedure starts, tolerances for convergence are set, for example, within a% and b% of the minimum axial load and paneling requirements. A search strategy is designed to move the initial solution into this small `optimal solution regiona (OSR) in the "rst quadrant. Although the structure performances cannot be exactly de"ned as functions of design variables, the trends discussed earlier can be envisaged as curves shown in Fig. 11. The distorted imaginary grids created by the curves are used to explain the search mechanism. Here, t indicates constant G wall thickness with di!erent bead depth, and d indicates constant bead depth with di!erent wall G thickness.

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Fig. 11. Optimization in the performance (constraint) space.

The following simple search strategy approaches the optimal design through iterations. Note that `x3A++ represents x is a member of A. 1. Current solution (CS)"initial solution 2. Evaluate CS. 3. If CS 3 Q1 4. Then, If CS 3 OSR 5. Then, stop search. Report optimal solution. 6. Else, decrease thickness to move CS into Q1, Q2 or Q4. Go to Step 3, 7 or 11. 7. If CS 3 Q2 8. Then, decrease bead depth to move CS into Q1 or Q3. Go to Step 3 or 9. 9. If CS 3 Q3 10. Then, increase thickness to move CS into Q2 or Q4. Go to Step 7 or 11. 11. If CS 3 Q4 12. Then, increase bead depth to move CS into Q1 or Q3. Go to Step 3 or 9. In fact, the optimization problem is a variation of point-location problem or point-inclusion problem in computational geometry. The objective is to "nd a point p (optimal solution) that is contained in region R (OSR). The Initial Solution is "rst evaluated (Step 2), and it could be in any quadrant. In Steps 6, 8, 10, and 12, change in thickness or bead depth is made, and FEA evaluations ensure the interim solution moves into one of the adjacent quadrants. The augmentation of the solution is based on bisection, or binary search. The solution moves along the grid lines, and the d}t solution space is e!ectively reduced in iterations. As Preparata and Shamos [7] pointed out, bisection is the fastest known search method for planar subdivision.

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5. Example problem A metal container with a 102 mm diameter and a 140 mm height is used to demonstrate the design optimization method. Seven-bead structure with equal spacing is selected as the bead con"guration. The axial load and paneling requirements are 2670 N (600 lbs) and 100 kPa (15 psi), respectively. Table 1 shows the material properties and the initial design. The tolerance of convergence is set at 5% for both axial load and paneling such that search for optimal solution will continue until the axial load and paneling performance fall into the ranges of [2669, 2802] N and [103, 108] kPa, respectively. FEA evaluations of the initial solution show that it had an axial load of 2340 N, and paneling of 35 kPa. As it is not in the OSR, the iterative search is conducted. As demonstrated in Table 2 and shown in Fig. 12, it takes four iterations to optimize the design. The solution eventually reaches the OSR with material thickness t"0.161 mm and bead depth d"1.168 mm, and the performance of 2727 N for axial load and 107 kPa for paneling.

Table 1 Example problem } material properties and initial design Material property E 200 Gpa Initial design Diameter 102 mm > 630 MPa Thickness 0.140 mm UTS 632 MPa Bead depth 0.889 mm n-value 0.12

0.28 Height 140 mm

E is the Young's modulus, the Poisson's ratio, > the yield strength, UTS the ultimate tensile strength and n the work hardening exponent.

Fig. 12. Example problem } progressions of design optimization.

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J. Wang / Finite Elements in Analysis and Design 37 (2001) 273}286 Table 2 Example problem } design optimization process Solution Iteration 1 1 2 3 Iteration 2 4 5 Iteration 3 6 7 8 Iteration 4 9 10 11 12 Thickness (mm) Bead depth (mm) Axial load (N) Paneling (kPa) 285

0.140 0.196 0.168 0.168 0.168 0.140 0.154 0.161 0.161 0.161 0.161 0.161

0.889 0.889 0.889 1.397 1.143 1.143 1.143 1.143 1.397 1.270 1.219 1.168

2340 4804 3745 2353 3038 1993 2549 2811 2277 2491 2647 2727

35 113 74 176 117 71 90 102 155 125 113 107

6. Conclusion In general, appropriate "nite element analyses can predict the performances within 10% of the values obtained from experiments. However, the imperfection of the test specimen cannot be overlooked. Out of roundness, out of cylindricity, localized metal thinning (may occur during beading), dent, defective weld could all contribute to the di!erences between FEA and actual test results. To evaluate the true performance of a design, manufacturing variations were not considered in the FEA models. In summary, implicit quasi-static and linearized buckling analyses are recommended for axial load and paneling simulations, respectively. Also in this study, a design method was developed to optimize food containers. The design optimization problem is transformed into a point inclusion problem. The FEA-based optimization utilizes bisection algorithm to augment the solution e$ciently. With continuous planar subdivision, the search guarantees to converge. The result is a design that meets the structure performance requirements with least material consumption. The optimization procedure is currently conducted by FEA analyst, and the process can be automated in the future.

Acknowledgements The author would like to thank Dr. Leon Steiner for conducting some of the FEA simulations, and Ms. Paula Costantini for preparing the "gures.

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References
[1] J. Hanlon, Handbook of Packaging Engineering, Institute of Packaging Professionals, 1992. [2] G. Robertson, Food Packaging } Principles and Practice, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1993. [3] M. Sodeik, R. Sauer, Mechanical behaviour of food cans under radial and axial load, 3rd International Tin Plate Conference, 1984. [4] M. Traversin, P. Magain, P. Jodogne, P. Dubreuil, P. Cochet, Mechanical behaviour optimisation of three-piece tinplate cans using numerical simulations, "fth International Tin Plate Conference 1992. [5] J. R. Kahrs, D. J. Radakovic, S. J. Bianculli, Optimization of food can bead design by "nite element techniques, US Steel Research, 1992. [6] I. B. Jones, D. R. J. Owen, D. Jones, A. J. L. Crook, G. Q. Liu, Applicability of Finite Element Method to Design and Optimization of Food Cans, Ironmaking and Steelmaking 25 (1) 1998. [7] F.P. Preparata, M.I. Shamos, Computational Geometry } An Introduction, Springer, Berlin, 1985.