Durability study of flexible bonded joints: The effect of sustained loads in mode I fracture tests
J. Manterola, J. Zurbitu, J. Renart, A. Turon, I. Urresti
Adhesives in bonded structures are exposed both to external loads and environmental conditions; durability studies are currently needed to assess their service lifetime. Conditioning strategies differ in considering external load conditions (such as stressed or not stressed) for the durability analysis of double cantilever beam (DCB) bonded joints. Different test procedures such as ASTM D3762 (wedge testing) or ISO-25217 (DCB testing) exist to characterise the evolution of the fracture strength and toughness found in bonded joints. These methods depend on crack-length measurements, however, and achieving an accurate visual determination may be difficult due to the large fracture process zones (FPZs) that develop in the adhesive layer, especially in flexible or degraded bonded joints. To compensate, crack-length-independent data-reduction methods such as the compliance-based beam method (CBBM) or the J-integral method can be used, but experimental research is lacking on the suitability of these methods in ageing tests. A lack of consensus also exists in testing methodologies to evaluate the durability of bonded joints, especially when examining flexible bonded joints. The present work evaluates the influence of damage on fracture toughness within flexible bonded joints exposed to service conditions. Wedge tests and DCB tests are conducted using DCB specimens bonded with a flexible structural adhesive, proving that the degradation of flexible bonded joints exposed to environmental conditions is significantly accelerated when external loads act on them. The findings show that crack length estimation is affected due to environmental effects and thus, that crack-length-dependent test methods are not applicable in ageing tests.