Delamination Arrestment in Bonded-Bolted Composite Structures by Fasteners
Cheung, Chi Ho Eric
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Laminated composites have exceptional in-plane strengths and fatigue properties. However, they are susceptible to the interlaminar mode of failure, namely disbond and delamination. This failure mode challenges the edges of structural interface, such as the skin-stringer flange and run-out, where interlaminar tension, shear, and opening moment are concentrated. The fasteners provide a substantiation path for the FAA damage tolerance requirement for composite bonded joints (FAR 23.573). A comprehensive understanding of delamination arrestment by fasteners was developed. The fastener provides crack arrest capability by three main mechanisms: 1) mode I suppression, 2) crack-face friction, and 3) fastener joint shear stiffness. The fastener mechanically closes the crack tip, suppressing mode I fracture and forcing the crack to propagate in pure mode II with higher fracture toughness. Fastener preload generates significant friction force on the cracked surfaces which reduces crack-tip forces and moments. The fastener shear joint provides an alternate load path around the crack tip that becomes more effective as crack length increases. The three mechanisms work in concert to provide various degrees of crack arrestment and retardation capability. A novel test technique was developed to quantify the delamination arrestment capability by fasteners under in-plane dominated loading, i.e. mode II propagation. The test results show that the fastener is highly capable of delamination arrestment and retardation. The test also demonstrates that fastener installation preload, which is directly related to crack-face friction, is an important factor in delamination arrestment. A computationally efficient analytical method was developed to capture the behavior and efficacy of delamination arrestment by fasteners. The solution method is based on the principle of minimum potential energy and beam-column modeling of the delaminating structure. The fastener flexibility approach is used to provide implicit modeling of the fastener, while a closed-form crack-tip element is used to calculate the mixed-mode strain energy release rates at the crack tip. The analytical method correlates well to the test results. The analytical method is used in parametric studies to expand the understanding of the delamination arrest fastener, such as sensitivities to fastener diameter and fastener hole clearance.