Joining of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastics for Automotive Applications
Abstract: The introduction of carbon-fibre reinforced plastics in loadbearing automotive structures provides a great potential toreduce vehicle weight and fuel consumption. To enable themanufacture and assembly of composite structural parts,reliable and cost-effective joining technologies must bedeveloped. This thesis addresses several aspects of joining andload introduction in carbon-fibre reinforced plastics based onnon-crimp fabric reinforcement.The bearing strength of carbon fibre/epoxy laminates wasinvestigated considering the effects of bolt-hole clearance.The laminate failure modes and ultimate bearing strength werefound to be significantly dependent upon the laminate stackingsequence, geometry and lateral clamping load. Significantreduction in bearing strength at 4% hole deformation was foundfor both pin-loaded and clamped laminates. The ultimatestrength of the joints was found to be independent of theinitial bolt-hole clearance.The behaviour of hybrid (bolted/bonded) joints wasinvestigated both numerically and experimentally. Athree-dimensional non-linear finite element model was developedto predict the load transfer distribution in the joints. Theeffect of the joint geometry and adhesive material propertieson the load transfer was determined through a parameter study.An experimental investigation was undertaken to determine thestrength, failure mechanisms and fatigue life of hybrid joints.The joints were shown to have greater strength, stiffness andfatigue life in comparison to adhesive bonded joints. However,the benefits were only observed in joint designs which allowedfor load sharing between the adhesive and the bolt.The effect of the environment on the durability of bondedand hybrid joints was investigated. The strength and fatiguelife of the joints was found to decrease significantly withincreased ageing time. Hybrid joints demonstrated increasedfatigue life in comparison to adhesive bonded joints afterageing in a cyclic freeze/thaw environment.The strength and failure mechanisms of composite laminatessubject to localised transverse loading were investigatedconsidering the effect of the specimen size, stacking sequenceand material system. Damage was found to initiate in thelaminates at low load levels, typically 20-30% of the ultimatefailure load. The dominant initial failure mode wasintralaminar shear failure, which occurred in sub-surfaceplies. Two different macromechanical failure modes wereidentified, fastener pull-through failure and global collapseof the laminate. The damage patterns and ultimate failure modewere found to depend upon the laminate stacking sequence andresin system. Finite element analysis was used to analyse thestress distribution within the laminates and predict first-plyfailure.Keywords:Composite, laminate, bearing strength,joining, load introduction, hybrid joint, finite elementanalysis, mechanical testing.
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