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Adhesively Bonded Joints Between Composites

Kevin Potter

© Kevin Potter 2012


Advantages of bonded joints
Load distributed over a large area High joint efficiency (Strength/weight ratio) Low part count No holes in the basic laminate Potential for low cost manufacture . Dissimilar materials can be bonded without corrosion problems

© Kevin Potter 2012



Advantages of bonded joints Air and water tight to some degree. although not necessarily perfect Fatigue lives of bonded construction tend to be good due to the flexibility of the adhesives With good design the joints can retain a high level of residual strength after initial cracking A bonded joint is generally aerodynamically better than a rivetted joint © Kevin Potter 2012 3 Disadvantages of bonded joints Difficult to inspect non-destructively Very sensitive to peel loading .must be avoided Good bonds require a good fit of parts Usually permanent and can’t be disassembled Strength can be affected by temperature / humidity Surface preparation is critical to a good bond Clean room conditions may be called for and the curing process must be closely controlled © Kevin Potter 2012 4 2 .

Disadvantages of bonded joints Bonding can be expensive due to labour intensive production Most aerospace adhesives require high cure temperatures (>180°C) that may damage some joint materials With poor design the joints can fail suddenly Adhesive layer may act as an electrical insulator causing problems when panels must be in electrical connection .g. Difficult to arrive at a realistic strength by analysis © Kevin Potter 2012 5 Fundamentals of adhesion 1 Hydrogen Bond Van der Waals Interatomic Distance Bond Energy Covalent Bond Ionic Bond Molecular energy vs. for lightning strike. interatomic distances for different types of bond © Kevin Potter 2012 6 3 . e.

© Kevin Potter 2012 7 Critical surface energies and wetting: Adherend Material PTFE PVC Polyamide Iron Tungsten 18 40 46 2030 6800 Typical Typical Adhesive 30 .Fundamentals of adhesion 2 Repulsion Energy Resultant Attraction Interatomic distance Attractive and repulsive forces and the resultant for a typical molecule.47 (mN/m) © Kevin Potter 2012 8 4 .

still used Evaporative Solvent based glues. may be used on aircraft interiors VHB Tapes High strength double sided tape Hot melt Higher strength and curing variants are now used © Kevin Potter 2012 9 Adhesive toughening Crack-stopping elastomer microspheres in adhesive © Kevin Potter 2012 10 5 .Adhesive types Epoxides Primary aerospace adhesives in film and paste form Polyurethanes Can give very high toughness systems Cyanoacrylate Rapid cure but very brittle and low peel strength Anaerobic Generally retention and threadlocking types Reactive acrylic Tough and fast for automotive uses Phenolic (Redux) The first structural adhesive for aircraft.

Basic joint types Single lap Double lap Scarf Bevel Stepped lap Butt strap Double butt strap Butt Peel Grout © Kevin Potter 2012 11 Deformations and shear stress distribution in a single-lap bond Totally rigid adherends uniform shear stress τ τ Elastic adherends shear stress concentration at ends of joint © Kevin Potter 2012 12 6 .

This ‘yielding’ leads to a change in the stress distribution shown previously and makes the shear stress more uniform across the joint. Yielding established C.Effect of yield on joint stresses For most adhesive formulations used in structural applications (usually epoxies) the adhesive ‘yields’ prior to failure. A. but there are still transverse stresses at the ends of the joint due to induced bending moments © Kevin Potter 2012 14 7 . Prior to yielding B. Yielding complete © Kevin Potter 2012 13 Transverse (peel) stresses For single lap joints there is an eccentricity in the load line that leads to distortion of the adherend geometry and very high transverse tensions (or peel stresses) at the ends of the joint For double lap joints this effect is eliminated.

If the fibres are perpendicular to the load then premature failure WILL occur. preferred Failure due to induced through thickness stresses in the composite . not ideal Adhesive failure at interface .very common.Adhesive failure modes in composite joints Cohesive failure. If there are multiple potential loading directions use a plain weave cloth as the surface ply © Kevin Potter 2012 16 8 .unpredictable must avoid © Kevin Potter 2012 15 Recommended Fibre Orientations The fibres in the layer immediately adjacent to the adhesive layer must be aligned in the same direction as the load path. wholly within the adhesive layer.

Tolerancing Recommended bondline thicknesses range from about 0.1mm to 1mm. although thicker bondlines are sometimes used.Design details. This can create problems with tolerances All dimensions need to be tightly controlled Dimensions of each part can be relaxed © Kevin Potter 2012 18 9 . do’s and don’ts © Kevin Potter 2012 17 Assembly issues 1.

thermal and moisture expansion coefficients. Use film adhesive. Use fully tooled bonding jig to directly control bondline and fillet geometry 2. manufacturing tolerances Inspectability Testing © Kevin Potter 2012 20 10 . Static. Pressure needed Use internal spacers in centre of bondline. Environment and aging. © Kevin Potter 2012 19 Detail design considerations Adherend Materials: strength. stiffness. gives a thin and well controlled bondline. surface treatment. bondline control Without bondline control joints can be geometrically distorted or become voidy and defective 1. fatigue. Adhesive properties: strength. computer based methods Variability: bond defects. gives a thicker bondline but some lack of flatness is OK. surface prep. ductility and toughness. so long as the surfaces being bonded are flat and parallel.Assembly issues 2. shock and creep loading. 3. Analysis methods: Hand calcs.

In real world adhesive yielding reduces peak stress Stress in through thickness direction in the CFRP for Linear FEA model © Kevin Potter 2012 22 11 .89 0.3MPa Max peel stress 12.0 3.93 0.05 1. fails in through thickness tension in laminate.10 2.08 1.Effect of end detail on strength of steel/CFRP double lap joints Fail load (kN/mm) Steel Cl CRFP Actual 0.3MPa.94 ---3.3 © Kevin Potter 2012 21 Reason for improvement in strength from geometry Max 12.05 Theory 1. fails in tension in adhesive Max 290MPa Max peel stress for same end load 290MPa.

Test methods 14 © Kevin Potter 2012 23 Peel tests © Kevin Potter 2012 24 12 .

Other test methods 15 Napkin Ring Test 18 Boeing Wedge Test © Kevin Potter 2012 25 Some results for the Boeing Wedge Test 300 Gic J/m2 200 5% brine Hydraulic fluid Acetone This data is for a carbon fibre / epoxy matrix composite. the crack propagation is controlled by whichever is weaker of the bond and the laminate © Kevin Potter 2012 26 13 . Most composites are not this sensitive to the environment 100 10 20 30 40 50 Hours of exposure 60 While this data is for a composite rather than an adhesive joint as such.

Surfaces must always be clean and dry prior to bonding.Recommended design practice Bondline thickness 0. Use Finite Element Analysis (FEA) computer modelling to refine the geometry if needed © Kevin Potter 2012 27 Surface Preparation Bonded joints can be very strong. Surfaces are often abraded or grit-blasted prior to bonding The use of peel ply without secondary abrasion may prove to be ineffective Metallic surfaces may be acid etched or subjected to other chemical or physical pre-treatments prior to bonding. © Kevin Potter 2012 28 14 . but this strength is critically dependent on surface preparation.1 to 0. and even minor amounts of contaminants such as oil can destroy the bond strength.5mm Minimise peel loads & stresses Bond length > 30 mm Ultimate Load/unit width < 1 kN/mm Use stepped-lap joints for thick adherends Use internal end-chamfer & fillets .

© Kevin Potter 2012 29 Estimation of joint strength 2 Reserve of strength to tolerate flaws Joint strength N/mm of joint width Strength of perfect adhesive bond Perfect bond weaker than adherends Strength of flawed adhesive bond Flawed bond weaker than adherends Adherend strength Flawed bond stronger than adherends Adherend thickness Relative strengths of adherends and adhesively bonded joints (with and without flaws) © Kevin Potter 2012 30 15 . This may be OK for short (<30mm) joints but long joints tend to fail by other processes before complete yielding. or by tension in the adhesive before complete yielding. Doubling the overlap length of the joint is very unlikely to double the strength. This assumes that the joint is fully yielded prior to failure and does not fail from through thickness tension or by adhesion failure.Estimation of joint strength 1 So long as the adhesive can yield a reasonable first estimate of maximum possible joint strength can be got from the area of the joint and the yield stress in shear.

requiring detailed stress analysis and the application of a validated failure criterion.Estimation of joint strength 3 Achieving a good prediction for the strength of a bonded joint is really rather complicated. This is generally beyond the capability of most organisations. Making test joints representative of the real joint and testing them under the same loadings and environmental conditions as the real joints may be the best we can do in many cases – then apply a safety factor (but what controls the safety factor?) © Kevin Potter 2012 31 Fatigue effects 1 60 50 Max average shear stress MPa 40 30 20 10 0 0 2 4 Log cycles to failure 6 Fatigue performance for well made composite double lap joints Dotted lines are 95% confidence limits on performance © Kevin Potter 2012 32 16 . and in any case there is no universally accepted way of carrying out the prediction.

Mode 1 Mode 2 Mode 3 Mode 4 Log cycles to failure Load/lifetime curves for different failure modes. showing that differing fatigue degradation rates for different failure modes can lead to changes in the expected fatigue failure mode © Kevin Potter 2012 34 17 . mode 3. adhesive interface failure.. peel failure mode 4. adherend failure. Any changes in failure mode under fatigue loading at the endurance of interest must be known and understood.Fatigue effects 2 To confidently predict fatigue life a good consistent set of fatigue data must be available and …………. The fatigue test environment must be an accurate reflection of the use environment so that there is a direct correspondence between fatigue life and operational life. cohesive failure. mode 2. © Kevin Potter 2012 33 Fatigue effects 3 Mode 4 Mode 3 Mode 2 Mode 1 Load mode 1.

but are similar at high temperature. BU data UD CFRP adherends Single lap shear 3M data CFRP cloth reinforced adherends Unexposed 90%RH 9 weeks The single lap shear joints are more affected by low temperatures than the DLS joints due to bending/peel effects on the increasingly brittle adhesive. steel support beam yielded 2nd trial. temperature and moisture 50 45 Average shear stress MPa 40 35 30 20 15 10 5 DLS.Environmental effects. Other adhesives would behave in different ways -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60 80 100 Test temperature Deg C © Kevin Potter 2012 35 Results of testing bonded I beams 3 point bending (see photo) 1st trial. failure at 47Tons 4 point bending: Failure at 63Tons Failure was probably in the adhesive © Kevin Potter 2012 36 18 . exposed. The adhesive was 3M’s EC3448 paste.

Through thickness (peel) failure in the laminate is critical and must be avoided Interface failure must be avoided by good surface preparation The effects of the use environment must be accounted for Simple and fully validated strength prediction methods are not available and some testing will generally be required in support of design © Kevin Potter 2012 37 19 .Conclusion It is possible to make reliable high strength bonded joints with composite adherends. BUT…………….