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February 2006 edition

Damage tolerance and durability of adhesively bonded composite Structures

By Professors Hyonny Kim and CT Sun and Professor Thomas Siegmund

Research that will help aircraft engineers to predict failure in adhesively bonded joints is being conducted at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, a member of the Center for Composites and Advanced Materials (CECAM), and part of the FAA’s Joint Advanced Materials and Structures (JAMS) Center of Excellence.

Adhesive bonding and composite materials usage are steadily increasing in the construction of aircraft structures such as the Boeing 787 and in most new general aviation aircraft. Yet the ability to predict failure of bonded joints remains a difficult engineering problem. This is not only due to the complex stress states developing when joints are loaded, but also for reasons related to manufacturing such as surface preparation and variations in adhesive bondline thickness. These issues affect the strength of a joint considerably. Added dimensions of complexity arise if cyclic loading and environmental effects need to be considered.

To address these hurdles, Professors Hyonny Kim and CT Sun in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Professor Thomas Siegmund in the School of Mechanical Engineering are conducting research into adhesive bonding damage tolerance to understand the process of how adhesive joints fail. They are also defining new experimental and analytical methodologies that can be used by airframe engineers for predicting failure of adhesively bonded composite structures. These m....

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