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Composite Structures

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/compstruct

joints with variable clearance using continuum damage mechanics

Yinhua Zhou a,b, Hamed Yazdani-Nezhad b, M.A. McCarthy b,, Xiaopeng Wan a, Conor McCarthy b

a

Department of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Biomedical Engineering, Irish Centre for Composites Research, Materials and Surface Science Institute, University of Limerick,

Limerick, Ireland

b

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:

Available online 10 June 2014

Keywords:

Composites

Bolted joints

Clearance

Continuum damage mechanics

Stiffness

In-plane damage

a b s t r a c t

A damage modelling approach, based on a continuum damage model (CDM) formulation, is proposed and

applied to the problem of double-lap, multi-bolt, bre-reinforced composite joints with variable clearances, subjected to quasi-static tensile loading. A new method of dealing with bre failure is included

in the CDM model, which is implemented in a commercial implicit nite element analysis code. The

model is validated at element and structural levels by comparing with experimental data. It has been

found that, for the joints examined in this paper, our formulation is capable of modelling development

of damage from bearing failure onset all the way to ultimate catastrophic net-tension failure without

numerical problems, which is an advance over previous work. The predictions from the CDM model of

net-tension failure modes and ultimate loads are in good agreement with those from the experiments.

Furthermore the model is capable of explaining some non-intuitive experimental ndings, such as the

larger energy absorption obtained in joints with higher clearances.

2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Composite bolted joints (CBJs) are widely used in critical structures in aerospace and energy applications. Though competing

with rapidly growing application of adhesive bonding and bonded

repair techniques [1], CBJs are still of major interest, especially

when thick composite parts are to be joined or where parts need

to be disassembled for inspection or repair during the life time of

the structure. The joints are the critical parts in the structure due

to the stress concentrations and bre discontinuities they

introduce. Hence, various methodologies have been developed to

investigate the structural response of the CBJs subjected to various

loading conditions, by means of numerical analysis, e.g. nite

element (FE) analysis, and/or experimental testing [24].

The two most well-known FE approaches for modelling brereinforced polymer (FRP) composite material are Progressive Damage Analysis (PDA) [5] and continuum damage mechanics (CDM).

PDA has been widely used for modelling CBJs, whereas the use of

CDM is much less prevalent for CBJs in the open literature. In

general, PDA is governed by material damage laws when an

undamaged element material reaches a critical stress and/or strain

E-mail address: michael.mccarthy@ul.ie (M.A. McCarthy).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compstruct.2014.05.051

0263-8223/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

rupture state. However, the CDM approach assumes that the element material transforms smoothly and gradually from the intact

state to the rupture state. Ladeveze and Le Dantec [6] developed a

CDM model based on a plane stress assumption for unidirectional

bre-reinforced composite plies to describe matrix micro-cracking

and bre/matrix debonding. OHiggins et al. [7,8] and Frizzell et al.

[9,10] then employed the model, enhanced it to account for bre

breakage, and extended it to a three-dimensional (3D) meso-scale

to predict the damage response of notched CFRP composites under

quasi-static and dynamic loading. This same CDM model was

recently enhanced by combining a delamination model with the

in-plane damage model in Nezhad et al. [11], and successfully

applied to model low velocity impact of at, unnotched CFRP panels manufactured from a high strain composite material used for

fuselage barrels.

Recently, 3D FE modelling has been extensively used to study

the damage response of CBJs [4,5,1217], sometimes in combination with experimental work. Various types of joint have been

investigated, such as single-lap, double-lap, single-bolt and

multi-bolt joints, as well as joints with countersunk and protruding

head bolts. Several of these studies have noted that bolt clearance

plays a key role in the performance and damage tolerance of CBJs.

McCarthy et al. [17] experimentally investigated the effect of bolthole clearance (from 0 lm to 240 lm) on the stiffness and strength

442

strength, and ultimate bearing strength and strain were obtained

in [17] according to ASTM [19]. The results indicated that clearances in the range used in aircraft applications can affect the 2%

offset strength and ultimate bearing strain in protruding-head

joints, but have little effect in countersunk joints. Based on this

work, Egan et al. [20,21] carried out further assessment, using FE

analysis, on the mechanical behaviour of single-bolt, single-lap

countersunk joints. By providing a highly-detailed representation

of stress state surrounding the countersunk hole, they were able

to elucidate the failure mechanisms in countersunk joints.

Concerning multi-bolt composite joints, McCarthy et al. [15,22]

carried out a series of experimental tests to investigate the effect of

variable bolt-hole clearance on the quasi-static strength, fatigue

life and failure modes in double-lap and single-lap CBJs containing

three protruding head bolts. The effects on quasi-static ultimate

strength were found to be relatively small, chiey affecting the failure mode, and failure strain, while the failure load was only mildly

affected. In contrast, the failure onset load, dened in [15,22] as the

load corresponding to 30% loss in joint stiffness, had a strong correlation with clearance. The fatigue tests also showed that joints

with one loose-t hole had a signicantly shorter fatigue life than

joints with all neat-t holes. McCarthy et al. [16] also developed a

3D FE PDA model of the multi-bolt, double-lap joints in [15,22],

and surface strains and loaddisplacement response correlated

well with the quasi-static experimental results. Bolt load plots

showed that minor changes in clearance caused major changes in

load distribution. The effects of clearance on damage progression

were also studied. However, convergence problems meant that

the numerical model could only follow the response up to just after

initial bearing failure, which was only a small fraction of the damage and failure response observed in the experiments. The nal

failure mode in the experiments was net-tension failure, which

the PDA model could not capture. Consequently, the ultimate load

level was not captured either.

From the above, it can be seen that studies on bolted joints with

CDM models are few in number compared to those using a PDA

model. PDA models have exhibited convergence problems in previous investigations of joints, meaning that ultimate load cannot be

predicted. In the present paper, a CDM model is suggested to alleviate these convergence difculties. An important feature which

has been found to improve the accuracy of predictions is the introduction of a new approach to derive the initial bre failure strain.

The model is capable of properly capturing the net-tension failure

mode and ultimate load of multi-bolt, double-lap, protruding-head

composite joints with different clearances, which the PDA model in

[16] failed to do. The proposed CDM model is used to correlate the

damage evolution with the joint stiffness variations during failure.

2. Overview of specimens

Brief details of the CBJ specimens studied are given here; for full

details of the experimental set-up see [15,22]. Specimen dimensions are shown in Fig. 1. The ratios of the width (w), edge distance

(e), and bolt pitch (p) to bolt diameter (d) were w/d = 6, e/d = 3, and

p/d = 4.5 respectively. The laminates were manufactured from carbonepoxy HTA/6376, and the quasi-isotropic lay-ups for the skin

(centre) plate and splice (outer) plates were respectively [45/0/

45/90]4s and [45/0/45/90]2s, with nominal ply thickness of

0.13 mm. All tests were carried out with titanium alloy protruding-head bolts, secured with a steel nut and washer. The elastic

material constants for the joint components are given in Table 1.

In the tests, an axial displacement was applied quasi-statically to

the splice plates while the skin plate was held stationary.

The four levels of clearance studied, labelled C1C4, are shown

in Table 2, which shows nominal clearance values, possible ranges

on the reamer and bolt diameters according to the tolerances used

on both, and consequent possible range on each clearance. The

nominal clearances are 0 lm, 80 lm, 160 lm and 240 lm, representing, respectively, percentage clearances of 0%, 1%, 2% and 3%

of the hole nominal diameter, 8 mm. The relatively large clearances

C3 and C4 are slightly outside of recommended tolerance for

aerospace applications, but may exist in practice if improper drilling or fastening procedures are followed. All the bolts had nominal

diameter 8 mm, manufactured with f7 ISO tolerance. For the multibolt joints, six different clearance combinations are studied, as

listed in Table 3. For example, the C1_C1_C1 case had (nominally)

zero clearance in all holes, while the C4_C1_C1 case had a large

Table 1

Material properties of HTA/6376 carbonepoxy, titanium alloy and steel [15,22].

E011 (GPa)

Lamina

Titanium alloy

Steel

E022 (GPa)

E033 (GPa)

G012 (GPa)

G013 (GPa)

G023 (GPa)

m12

m13

m23

10

5.2

5.2

3.9

0.3

0.3

0.5

140

10

E (GPa)

110

210

0.29

0.3

443

Table 2

Bolt-hole clearance details.

Clearance

code

C1

C2

C3

C4

Nominal

clearance

(lm)

0

80

160

240

Reamer

diameter

Bolt diameter

Possible

clearance

Min

(mm)

Max

(mm)

Min

(mm)

Max

(mm)

Min

(lm)

Max

(lm)

7.985

8.065

8.145

8.225

7.994

8.074

8.154

8.234

7.972

7.972

7.972

7.972

7.987

7.987

7.987

7.987

2

78

158

238

22

102

182

262

Table 3

Joint clearance cases.

Case code

C1_C1_C1

C2_C1_C1

C4_C1_C1

C1_C3_C1

C3_C3_C1

C1_C1_C4

Hole 1

Hole 2

Hole 3

0

80

240

0

160

0

0

0

0

160

160

0

0

0

0

0

0

240

clearance in hole 1 only. As described in [15,22], special jigs, xtures and reamers were made for the tests, and the bolt loads were

measured with instrumented bolts.

3. Finite element model development

3.1. Parts and assembly of the joint

Finite element modelling was performed here using ABAQUS

[23]. A one-quarter symmetric model was used, as shown in

Fig. 2, taking advantage of the symmetry of the joint shown

in Fig. 1. The gripped areas were not modelled, i.e. perfect

gripping was assumed. The washers and bolts were modelled

and meshed separately. One element per ply was used through

the thickness. Three-dimensional 8-node reduced-integration

(C3D8R) elements with hourglass control were used to discretise

the model. The smallest element size in the laminate was

0.32 mm 0.4 mm 0.13 mm, and the model contained 131,616

elements. The boundary constraints are also shown in Fig. 2. The

nodes at one end of the skin plate model were xed in X, Y and Z

plates along the Z direction. The nodes of faces labelled as Y-symmetric and Z-symmetric in Fig. 2 were constrained, respectively, in

Y and Z direction.

Contact pairs were dened between interacting surfaces of the

parts. Contact was dened by implementing tangential and normal

behaviour with hard pressure-overclosure enforcement [23].

According to McCarthy et al. [24], suitable frictional coefcients

are 0.7, 0.3, 0.3 and 0.1 for laminate-to-laminate, bolt-to-washer,

washer-to-laminate and bolt-to-laminate interfaces, respectively,

and these were used here. A nger-tight torque of 0.5 Nm

was applied to simulate the actual assembly torque, using PRETENSION SECTION in ABAQUS [23]. To specify the clearances

tabulated in Tables 2 and 3, the diameter of the bolts and their

corresponding holes were varied in the model. This approach

proved more reliable than using the built-in CLEARANCE option

in ABAQUS which led to penetration problems. To represent the

neat-t (C1) case, rather than choosing zero clearance and running

into initial contact problems, very small values, viz. 10 lm and

15 lm, were respectively chosen as the bolt-hole clearance and

the washer-hole clearance.

3.2. CDM model with new bre damage method

The basic formulation of the CDM model for predicting damage

initiation and growth used in this study was developed originally

by Ladevze and Le Dantec [6]. They successfully implemented this

meso-scale model for the prediction of transverse and shear damage in composite plies. A generalised (3D) version of this model has

been adopted here [7,9]. The strain energy density ED for a damaged ply is dened as:

"

hr11 i2

hr22 i2

1

hr11 i2

hr22 i2 r2

ED

0 033

0

0

2 E011 1 d1

E11

E22 1 d2

E22

E33

2

2

13

G013

E011

2

23

G023

2

E011

2

with

hai aif a 6 0; otherwise hai 0

E022

s212

G012 1

d12

1

444

where E011 , E022 , E033 , G012 , G013 , G023 and m12, m13, m23 are respectively the

Youngs moduli, shear moduli and Poissons ratios of an undamaged

ply, and d1, d2 and d12 are the bre, transverse and shear scalar

damage variables, respectively, that govern the degradation of the

moduli. These variables take on values from 0 to 1 (=dmax). It is

noted that the transverse tension energy and compression energy

are split since transverse micro-cracks close up under compression.

Thermodynamic forces are derived from Eq. (1) in the form of

the energy dissipation rates, analogous to energy release rates for

crack propagation, which govern development of shear and transverse tensile damage for the matrix. The thermodynamic forces Y2,

Y12 are associated with damage variables d2 and d12 for dissipation,

and are dened as:

Y2

@ED

r2 J

0 22 s2 2

@d2 r;d1 ;d12 2E22 1 d2

Y 12

d1n1

@ED

r212

tensile loading and (ii) bre/matrix debonding, two additional

quantities are introduced:

Yt maxs6t

q

Y 12 s bY 2 s

Y 2 t maxs6t

p

Y 2 s

where Y(t) and Y 2 (t) are set to their maximum values attained over

any previous time s up to the current time t for preventing the

material healing, and b is the shear-transverse damage coupling

factor.

OHiggins et al. [25] carried out numerous statistically robust

experimental tests to describe the damage development laws and

extract the material properties for the HTA/6376 CFRP material

modelled here. For this CFRP material system, OHiggins et al.

[25] wrote d12 and d2 as follows:

d12

8

0

>

>

<

Y 12a ln Yt Y 12b

>

>

:

dmax

if

Yt 6 Y 12

if

otherwise

6

where Y12a, Y12b are the constants dening the logarithmic function,

YS is the transverse tension brittle damage threshold, YR is the shear

brittle damage threshold and Y 12 0 is the initial shear damage point.

8

0

>

>

<

d2 Y 2a ln Yt Y 2b

>

>

:

dmax

if

Yt 6 Y 2 0

if

d2 < dmax ; Y 2 t 6 Y S ; Y t 6 Y R

otherwise

7

For the case of compressive stress, the matrix material is

assumed to be linear elastic to failure, under the assumption that

matrix micro-cracks close under compressive loading. Hence,

transverse compressive failure only occurs when r22 + r33 < 0,

and [26]:

1

Sc22

Sc22

2

2S23

!

1 r22 r33

r12 r13 2

S212

P1

where rij and Sij are the stress and strength components, respectively, and superscript c refers to compression.

In general, damage in the bre direction governs the nal fracture mode of the structure. It is common knowledge that carbon

bre, though tough, exhibits brittle behaviour. Although the process from aw initiation to fracture is quite short, it is still necessary to simulate the damage accumulation not only for the

accuracy of the CDM model, but also for the sake of simulation convergence, as instantaneous (sudden) development of bre failure

may cause numerical uctuation and hence instability. In [25],

bre damage evolution is governed by a simple criterion based

on the strain in the bre direction only. Fibre damage initiates at

a user-dened initial failure strain ei11 . It then develops according

to Eq. (9).

r22 r33

4S223

2

23

r22 r33

S223

8

8

0

>

>

>

>

< u e11 ei11

n1

d1 eu11 ei11

>

>

u

>

>

: 1 1 du1 e e11

11

if

if

if

n1

u

11

e11n1 > e

uniaxial tensile testing of unidirectional bre-reinforced laminates

u

loaded in bre direction and d1 is the bre damage value at eu11 .

Both compression and tension failure evolution use the same

methodology.

Using Eq. (9) good agreement with the experimental data has

been obtained for notched and unnotched composite plates in

[25]. However, we have found that for complex structures such

as CBJs, the maximum strain criterion signicantly overestimates

the joints mechanical capability, i.e. ultimate load. This is believed

to occur because the criterion does not take into account the complexity of the stress state in tearing/shearing behaviour of the joint.

In contrast, the Hashin [26,27] criterion which is widely used in

PDA methods includes the shearing mechanism, but such PDA

methods lack continuity of damage evolution and have convergence difculties as mentioned before. Consequently, these two

methodologies are combined in this work, i.e. Hashins criterion

is initially called within the subroutine to calculate the bre failure

initiation in each element as a function of its stressstrain state. Eq.

(10) represents the criterion:

8 2 2 2

>

< rX11 rS 12 rS 13 P 1

T

12

13

2

>

r

: 11 P 1

XC

r11 > 0

10

r11 < 0

where XT, XC, S12, and S13 are strengths for bre tension, bre compression, shear in 12 plane and shear in 13 plane respectively.

Once the criterion is satised, the corresponding strain is stored

as the initial failure strain, ei11 for use in Eq. (9), and then passed

to the next increment of the simulation to continue damage accumulation according to Eq. (9), which gives the bre damage variable, d1. Then, the damage variables (d1, d12, d22) are used to

update the stiffness matrix, and determine stresses in the next

increment.

Data for the CDM model are given in Table 4. The strength constants are common properties that are widely used in PDA models,

e.g. in [16], while the other parameters required in Eqs. (4)(10)

are tted from the experimental data in [25].

3.3. Validation of damage model

To validate the proposed CDM model with the new approach to

evaluate the initial failure strain, comparisons are made at the element scale and the structural scale. Stressstrain curves from single-element and four-element FE models are compared with

445

Table 4

Data for CDM model.

ST11 MPa

SC11 MPa

2200

p

Y 2b MPa

1.623

1.55

p

MPa

SC22 MPa

S12 MPa

S23 MPa

S13 MPa

Y 12a

1600

250

eu11 %

eu11c %

300

b

120

dmax

120

u

d1

Ys

0.3087

p

Pa

YR

1.48

-0.296

0.9

0.99

2700

565

joints (at the structural scale) are compared with the experiments

in [22].

The damage model is implemented in ABAQUS, using the userdened material subroutine, UMAT. As in-plane damage mechanisms comprising bre fracture, transverse matrix damage and

shear damage are modelled here, the comparisons at the element

scale are made in bre, transverse and shear directions. Single solid

elements were used for modelling behaviour in the bre and transverse directions with plies oriented in the 0 and 90 directions,

respectively. Boundary conditions and results are shown in

Fig. 3(a) and (b). For modelling shear behaviour, four elements

each containing a single ply were stacked in a (45/45)s lay-up

and pulled axially as shown in Fig. 3(c). As seen, the CDM model

provided accurate prediction of strainstress behaviour for these

models over the whole loading duration until fracture. The predicted shear damage response is non-linear as in the experiments.

It is well known that bre-reinforced composites display signicant non-linear shear stressstrain behaviour [28]. Note that this

non-linear shear behaviour plays an important role in bre damage

evolution and hence ultimate failure of the material, which is

captured in our new bre damage model in Eq. (10).

Y 12b

p

MPa

1.7125

p

Pa

Y 2a

p

MPa

0.2961

curves for the CBJs, as presented in Fig. 4(a)(f). Detailed analysis

of the tests in [22] showed that the joints failed initially in bearing

at one or more holes at loads varying from 50 kN for the all neat-t

case (C1_C1_C1) to 37 kN for the C3_C3_C1 case. All the joints

failed ultimately by net-section failure with only minor variations

in ultimate load. As seen in Fig. 4, good agreement between the FE

solution and the experimental data is obtained for all combinations

of clearances. The nal part of the FE curves shows a non-linear

and almost smooth degradation due to damage accumulation,

not in keeping with the catastrophic net-section failures in the

tests; this is a necessary outcome of maintaining convergence all

the way to failure. Nevertheless, the disparities with experiment

shown in Fig. 4 are small.

One interesting point is that the stiffest joint, i.e. C1_C1_C1,

failed in net-tension quite quickly after the initial bearing failure,

with a maximum joint displacement of only 3 mm. In contrast,

joints with clearance displayed a higher level of non-linear (damaging) behaviour before nal net-tension failure, e.g. the

C3_C3_C1 joint lasted until a displacement of 4.8 mm (which is

not explainable solely by the addition of a total of 260 lm

clearance in the joint). This behaviour has been noted before for

Fig. 3. Validation of the model at the element scale: (a) bre damage response of HTA/6376; (b) matrix damage response of HTA/6376; (c) shear damage response of HTA/

6376.

446

Fig. 4. Validation of CDM model at the structural scale. Loaddisplacement curves of (a) C1_C1_C1; (b) C2_C1_C1; (c) C4_C1_C1; (d) C1_C1_C4; (e) C1_C3_C1 (f) C3_C3_C1.

single-bolt joints [17], where more volume of the laminate material exhibited damage at nal failure at large clearances, leading

to the suggestion that clearance could be advantageous for joints

designed to absorb energy. The interesting point is that the model

has captured this, i.e. in Fig. 4(f) we note the load stabilises again

even after the sharp drop at 3.8 mm displacement, indicating there

is still more load-carrying capacity available through further damage evolution before the nal net-tension failure at 4.8 mm. This

point is returned to in the next section.

With the CDM model shown to produce good results at the element and structural level, the next section discusses the FE prediction of the model for the CBJ in detail.

4.1. Stiffness progression and damage evolution

As damage accumulates, the load in the joint re-distributes

between bolts and the joint stiffness changes. In this section, the

change in joint stiffness (slope of the loaddeection curve) with

damage evolution is studied. Fig. 5(a)(f) compares the FE solution

for stiffness vs. load with the experimental data in [22]. Good

agreement is provided for all clearance combinations by the model,

providing reasonable magnitude and trend of the joint stiffness

degradation. Initial oscillations in load occur due to intermittent

sticking and slipping, and growth in contact area, as the bolts settle

into the holes. Notice this initial oscillatory region is largest for

the joint with the largest total clearance (C3_C3_C1) as expected.

The highest level the stiffness reaches before it drops due to the

damage onset also matches the experiments quite well, as does

the load at which damage onset occurs (e.g. around 50 kN for the

C1_C1_C1 joint and 40 kN for the C3_C3_C1 joint).

After the bolts settle into the holes, all the stiffness curves have

three main stages: a relatively constant stiffness phase, a transition

phase where the stiffness oscillates again, and then a sharp decline

at the end. The stiffness oscillates in the transition phase (between

around 40 kN and 60 kN) because of the re-distribution of load

from the hole(s) that fail rst in bearing (the neat-t holes) to

447

the larger clearance holes which had initially taken much lower

load.

The process is illustrated in Fig. 6, which shows the bre damage level in the C1_C1_C4 joint at loads of 48 kN, 54 kN and 58 kN.

From Fig. 5(d) we see these loads correspond respectively to just

before the rst major drop in stiffness (rst bearing failure), just

at the point when the stiffness has dropped to a low value, and just

after it has rebounded somewhat to a higher value. At 48 kN

(Fig. 6(a)) we observe bre compressive (i.e. bearing) damage at

the two neat-t holes (holes 1 and 2), but none at the loose t hole

(hole 3). This is to be expected since the neat t holes will initially

take almost all the load, with hole 3 assuming only a small portion

of it (see [22] for unequivocal experimental evidence of this). At

Fig. 5. Joint stiffness comparisons between experiments and FE models: (a) C1_C1_C1; (b) C2_C1_C1; (c) C4_C1_C1; (d) C1_C1_C4; (e) C1_C3_C1; (f) C3_C3_C1.

448

Fig. 6. Fibre damage evolution of C1_C1_C4 joint: (a) at 48 kN; (b) at 54 kN; (c) at 58 kN.

Fig. 7. Failure modes of quasi-static tests: (a) C1_C1_C1, C1_C1_C4 and C1_C3_C1: net tension of splice (outer) plates at H3; (b) C2_C1_C1, C4_C1_C1 and C3_C3_C1: net

tension of skin (inner) plate at H1.

449

Fig. 8. Fibre damage at ultimate failure for C1_C1_C1: (a) splice plate and skin plate; (b) hole 1 of skin plate.

Fig. 9. Fibre damage at ultimate failure for C1_C3_C1: (a) splice plate and skin plate; (b) hole 1 of skin plate.

54 kN (Fig. 6(b)), the bearing damage at holes 1 and 2 has progressed sharply causing the sharp drop in stiffness of the joint,

but hole 3 is still not taking enough load to cause any bearing damage at that location. In fact, the take up of load by hole 3 is being

slightly delayed due to the onset of some tensile bre damage at

the net-tension section of hole 3, which allows the hole to stretch

(this occurs due to high by-pass loads as discussed below). Finally

at 58 kN (Fig. 6(c)), we nd signicant bearing damage at hole 3,

indicating all three holes are now fully sharing the burden of the

load, which leads to the temporary increase in stiffness of the joint

in Fig. 5(d) due to the increase in bearing area. This transition from

an unequal sharing of the load up to rst bearing failure, to an

equal sharing of the load by the time ultimate failure occurs,

explains why clearance affects 2% offset bearing strength but does

not signicantly affect ultimate strength.

As noted above, all the joints in the experimental study failed

ultimately in net tension. However they did not all fail at the same

location. To understand this behaviour, we need to consider the

bypass stress at each hole. Consider Fig. 1 again. Letting w = the

width of the plates, t = the thickness of the splice plate, and

2t = the thickness of the skin plate, then if P1, P2 and P3 are the

loads taken by bolts 1, 2 and 3 respectively, the gross-section

bypass stress in the splice plate is highest at hole 3 and equals

(P1 + P2)/(2wt), while in the skin it is highest at hole 1 and is

(P2 + P3)/(2wt). In conventional CBJ design, it is assumed that

clearances are the same at all holes, that the load distribution does

not change during loading, and that in this three-bolt conguration, P1 = P3, and P2 < P1. Thus conventional theory would say a

450

hole 1 in the skin plate since the bypass stresses are the same in

both locations, and which happens rst depends on random factors

like internal defects or slight manufacturing variations. However,

in our study the clearances are not necessarily all the same. Since

P1 will be smaller than P2 and P3 when a clearance exists in hole

1, the bypass stress in the splice plate at hole 3 is less than the

bypass stress in the skin at hole 1, so we would expect a net tension failure in the skin at hole 1 in the C2_C1_C1, C4_C1_C1, and

C3_C3_C1 cases. This is precisely what happened (see Fig. 7(a)).

In the C1_C1_C1 and C1_C3_C1 cases either failure location should

be equally likely, while in the C1_C1_C4 case, the failure should be

in the splice plate at hole 3; in fact all these cases failed in the

splice plate at hole 3 (see g. 7(b)).

This simple theory considering loading in the elastic region is

thus capable of qualitatively explaining the likely effects of clearance on ultimate failure mode. However, it could not make quantitative predictions such as what level of clearance is needed in

is because, as noted in the previous section, once the initial bearing

failures start to occur, the load shifts around in a very complex way

as the damage at the various holes progresses. Thus the damage

model provides a much more detailed analysis, and we now

address some additional insights it can provide and check them

against experimental ndings.

Fibre damage at ultimate failure of four cases (C1_C1_C1,

C1_C3_C1, C2_C1_C1, and C3_C3_C1) is shown in Figs. 811. The

upper plate in the gures is the splice plate and the lower one is

the skin plate (only the top half of the skin plate is modelled due

to symmetry). Note that damage up to ultimate failure was not

possible to predict in our previous study using PDA, which could

not obtain a converged solution this far into the process [16].

As can be seen from Figs. 8(a) and 9(a), for the C1_C1_C1 and

C1_C3_C1 joints, compressive bre damage (bearing failure if there

is enough of it) occurs at all hole surfaces, but the ultimate cause

of failure in both joints is tensile bre damage across the entire

Fig. 10. Fibre damage at ultimate failure for C2_C1_C1: (a) splice plate and skin plate; (b) hole 1 of skin plate.

Fig. 11. Fibre damage at ultimate failure for C3_C3_C1: (a) splice plate and skin plate; (b) hole 1 of skin plate.

451

Fig. 12. Fibre damage in 45/0/45/90 plies at ultimate failure: (a) hole 3 of splice plate for C1_C1_C1; (b) hole 1 of skin plate for C3_C3_C1. Shown also is the length of the

region in which bre damage occurs at the specimen edge (mm); this length is the original length of the damaged elements.

this location, as in the experiments. However, notice in Figs. 8(b)

and 9(b) that substantial bre damage also exists across the net

tension section of hole 1 in the skin plate, i.e. there was almost

an equal likelihood that failure would occur at hole 3 in the splice

plate or hole 1 in the skin plate, and which failure occurred rst

depended on very small differences in the way the damage progressed at each hole, which is in line with the discussion above.

In contrast for joints with a non-zero clearance in hole 1, viz.

C2_C1_C1 and C3_C3_C1, shown in Figs. 10 and 11 respectively,

net tension failure occurs at hole 1 in the skin plate, as shown in

Figs. 10(b) and 11(b). This is in agreement with the experiments

and the simple theory. Once again bearing damage occurs at all

hole surfaces prior to this, and tensile bre damage also exists at

hole 3 of the splice plate. However, this time the tensile bre damage is much more substantial at hole 1 of the skin plate than at hole

3 of the splice plate, so there is no uncertainty about which failure

will occur rst, which is also in line with the discussion above.

The above shows that the model is reproducing the main failure

mechanisms in the joints in a correct way, although it could be

argued that the simple bearingbypass analysis could predict the

same global, if not detailed, behaviour. Something the simple

methods could not give insight into, however, is the issue raised

at the end of Section 3.3, viz. why the C3_C3_C1 joint exhibits a

much higher joint deformation (and hence more energy absorption) at failure than the C1_C1_C1 joint. The damage model gives

an interesting insight into this. Comparing Fig. 11 with Fig. 8, we

see that the elongation of hole 1 in the skin plate of the

C3_C3_C1 joint is much higher than that of hole 3 in the splice

plate of the C1_C1_C1 joint. In addition, the amount of material

that exhibits bre damage is much higher in the C3_C3_C1 joint.

Thus, the C3_C3_C1 joint deforms much more and absorbs more

energy than the C1_C1_C1 joint. Why does this happen? Well, it

is well known [14] that increased clearance shifts the peak tangential tensile stress at the hole away from the net tension plane and

20. This shifts the tensile load somewhat from the 0 plies to the

45 and 45 plies, thus spreading the load and leading to more bre

damage in the off-axis plies, which can be seen clearly in Fig. 12.

Thus, a larger region of damageable material is created so the hole

can stay intact longer, and more energy is ultimately absorbed.

5. Conclusions

A detailed three-dimensional FE model of double-lap, multibolt composite joints, has been developed. Material damage and

failure has been modelled using a CDM model, incorporating a

new method of determining bre initiation strain, which takes into

account the interaction of tensile and shear stresses on the bre.

The effects of variable clearance on stiffness, damage evolution,

and failure mode have been studied numerically.

In single and four-element tests, the CDM model has achieved

stressstrain responses in the longitudinal, transverse and shear

directions which match well with experimental materials tests.

The shear response exhibited an obvious non-linear stressstrain

behaviour, which actually signicantly affects the failure of the

bres, due to the new bre damage criterion. When used in the

multi-bolt joint models, the CDM model provided stable and sensible results all the way to nal failure, which is a considerable

improvement over previous PDA models.

Correlation of the non-linear behaviour in the loaddeection

curves with the bre damage evolution showed that the model

was capturing all the important damage and failure phenomena

in the joint. The effects of variable clearance, which is not generally

incorporated into standard joint design, could be predicted with a

high degree of delity all the way to nal failure. This suggests it

could be used to predict the effects of many other joint parameters,

and is therefore a useful design tool. The model could also give signicant additional insight into the detailed progression of damage,

which can aid design.

452

in-plane damage model presented here, as done by our group for

impact on panels in [11], and the addition of a nonlocal regularisation scheme to reduce mesh dependency, such as the one used by

our group [9,10] for modelling open hole specimens and bre

metal laminate joints. Both these developments are currently computationally prohibitive for multi-bolt joints, which is why they

were not included here, but this will change in the near future,

as computing power continues to grow.

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge Irish Centre of High-End

Computing (ICHEC) for the provision of computational facilities.

The nancial support from the China Scholarship Council (CSC),

and the provision of research facilities from the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI) at the University of Limerick are also

gratefully appreciated.

References

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[3] Starikov R, Schon J. Quasi-static behaviour of composite joints with

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[4] Ireman T. Three-dimensional stress analysis of bolted single-lap composite

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[5] Perugini P, Riccio A, Scaramuzzino F. Three-dimensional progressive damage

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[6] Ladeveze P, Ledantec E. Damage modeling of the elementary ply for laminated

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[11] Nezhad HY, McCarthy CT. Deliverable: Low-Velocity, High-energy impacts and

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