This paper firstly reveals that when assessing if a bonded joint meets the certification requirements inherent in MIL-STD-1530D and the US Joint Services Standard JSSG2006 it is necessary to ensure that: (a) There is no yielding at all in the adhesive layer at 115% of design limit load (DLL), and (b) that the joint must be able to withstand design ultimate load (DUL). Secondly, it is revealed that fatigue crack growth in both nano-reinforced epoxies, and structural adhesives can be captured using the Hartman–Schijve crack growth equation, and that the scatter in crack growth in adhesives can be modelled by allowing for variability in the fatigue threshold. Thirdly, a methodology was established for estimating a valid upper-bound curve, for cohesive failure in the adhesive, which encompasses all the experimental data and provides a conservative fatigue crack growth curve. Finally, it is shown that this upper-bound curve can be used to (a) compare and characterise structural adhesives, (b) determine/assess a “no growth” design (if required), (c) assess if a disbond in an in-service aircraft will grow and (d) to design and life in-service adhesively-bonded joints in accordance with the slow-growth approach contained in the United States Air Force (USAF) certification standard MIL-STD-1530D.
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