Structural integrity assessment of a full-scale adhesively-bonded bi-material joint for maritime applications

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The present study proposes a comprehensive integrity assessment approach for a full-scale adhesively-bonded bi-material joint for maritime applications. The joint represents a cross-section of the bond-line connection of a ship with a steel hull and a sandwich composite superstructure. The full-scale joint consists of a sandwich composite core adhesively bonded to two U-shaped steel brackets. The joint was subjected to a quasi-static loading profile including 6 load cycles up to the final failure. Each load cycle was followed by a dwell segment holding the joint at the maximum displacement for 30 s and then unloading to 50% of the maximum displacement. Three Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) techniques including Acoustic Emission (AE), Fiber Optic Sensor (FOS), and Digital Image Correlation (DIC) were employed during the test to assess the damage state of the joint. Moreover, a Finite Element Model (FEM) was developed to simulate the evolution behavior of different damage mechanisms in the joint and the FE results were compared against the experimental findings. The obtained results showed that the integration of all the employed techniques could successfully detect the damage initiation, assess the severity of the damage, localize the critical regions of the joint, and distinguish the different damage mechanisms.