Adhesively bonded composite structures, if designed properly, have proven to be stiffer and to possess a higher specific strength than their mechanically fastened counterparts. To increase the applicability of these bonded joints in the aircraft industry, a study was performed to investigate the influence of hygrothermal aging on co-bonded composite stiffened panels with an initial disbond under cyclic compression loading. Experiments showed that hygrothermal aging led to a decrease in disbond growth throughout cyclic loading. The decreased disbond growth was likely caused by the increased ductility of the bond due to the presence of moisture. A higher ductility can lead to crack blunting and stress relaxation, resulting in higher fracture toughness of the bond. Furthermore, it was shown that hygrothermal aging did not influence the residual strength and stiffness of the panels after cyclic loading. The experiments were simulated numerically to gain a better understanding of the crack growth behavior and to aid future numerical crack growth predictions.
- Finite element analysis