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Bond Strength Degradation of Adhesive- Bonded CFRP Composite Lap Joints After Lightning Strike



Adhesive bonding to join fiber reinforced polymer matrix composites holds great promise to replace conventional mechanical attachment techniques for joining composite components. Understanding the behavior of these adhesive joints when subjected to various environmental loads, such as lightning strike, represents an important concern in the safe design of adhesively bonded composite aircraft and spacecraft structures. In the current work, simulated lightning strike tests are performed at four elevated discharge impulse current levels (71.4, 100.2, 141, and 217.8 kA) to evaluate the effects of lightning strike on the mechanical behavior of single lap joints. After documentation of the visually observed lightning strike induced damage, single lap shear tests are conducted to determine the residual bond strength. Post-test visual observation and cross-sectional microscopy are conducted to document the failure modes of the adhesive region. Although the current work was performed on a limited number of specimens, it identified important trends and directions for future more comprehensive studies on lightning strike effects in adhesively bonded composites. It is found that the lightning strike induced damage (extent of the surface vaporization area and the delamination depth) increases as the lightning current increases. The stiffness of the adhesive joints and shear bond strength did not show a clear correlation with the lightning current levels, which could be due to many competing factors, including the temperature rise caused by the lightning strike and the surface conditions of the adherends prior to bonding. The failure modes of the adhesive regions for all specimens demonstrate a mixed mode of adhesive and cohesive failure, which may be due to inconsistent surface characteristics of the adherends before bonding. The energy absorbed during the lap shear tests generally increases as the lightning current increases.


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