Tractors are one of the most important agricultural machinery in the world. They provide agricultural activities in challenging conditions by using various agricultural machineries which are added on them. Therefore, there has been a rising demand for tractor use for agricultural activities. During the power transmission, tractor clutches are exposed to high static and cyclic loading directly. Thus, most of clutch parts fail before completing their design life which is under 106 cycles. Especially, because of the high stress, there are a number of fractures and breakages are observed around the pin area of the finger mechanisms. Due to these reasons, it is necessary to re-design these fingers by using modern optimization techniques and finite element analysis.

This paper presents an approach for analysis and re-designs process of tractor clutch PTO finger. Firstly, the original designs of the PTO fingers are analyzed by using finite element analysis. Static structural analyses are applied on these fingers by using ANSYS static structural module. The boundary conditions are determined according to the data from the axial fatigue test bench. Afterwards, the stress-life based fatigue analyses are performed with respect to Goodman criterion. It is seem that the original design of the PTO finger, failed before the design life. Hence, the PTO finger is completely re-designed by using topology and shape optimization methods. Topology optimization is used to find the optimum material distribution of the PTO fingers. Topology optimization is performed in solidThinking Inspire software. The precise dimensions of the PTO fingers are determined by using shape optimization and response surface methodology. Two different design parameters, which are finger thickness and height, are selected for design of experiment and 15 various cases are analyzed. By using DOE method three different equations are obtained which are maximum stresses, mass, and displacement depending on the selected design parameters. These equations are used in the optimization as objective and constraint equations in MATLAB. The results indicate that the proposed models predict the responses adequately within the limits of the parameters being used. The final dimensions of the fingers are determined after shape optimization. The new designs of the PTO fingers are re-analyzed in terms of static and fatigue analysis. The new design of the PTO finger passed the analysis successfully. As a result of the study, the finger mass is increased 7% but it is quite small. Maximum Equivalent Von-Misses stress reduction of 25.3% is achieved. Fatigue durability of the PTO finger is improved 53.2%. The rigidity is improved up to 27.9% compared to the initial design. The optimal results show that the developed method can be used to design a durable, low manufacturing cost and lightweight clutch parts.

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