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Title: Plasma pre-treatment for adhesive bonding of aerospace composite components
Author: Navarro Rodriguez, Berta
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 7530
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2016
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A cold atmospheric pressure plasma source was investigated as an alternative pre-treatment for carbon fibre reinforced epoxy substrates prior to bonding. For reference, common surface pre-treatments were also investigated (peel ply, manual abrasion, and grit blasting). In the aerospace industry, the peel ply, is usually added to one side of the composite surface during manufacture and peeled off prior to bonding. Peel ply can be used independently or in combination with other techniques. The strength of the bonded joints of the different pre-treatments was assessed through tensile lap shear tests. It was found that combining peel ply with plasma increased the joint strength by 10% whereas manual abrasion or grit blasting after peel ply improved the strength of the joints by 15% and 20% respectively. The effect of pre-treating the composite substrate side without peel ply (bag side) was also investigated. The strength of the joints produced without any pre-treatment was increased by 99% for manual abrasion, 134% for grit blasting and by 146% for plasma. Comparing both surfaces of the composite substrates, it was found that using peel ply improved the performance of the joints by 91%. In order to understand better the effects of the different pre-treatments, surface characterisation of the substrates (surface roughness, surface free energy, and analysis of chemical changes) was also conducted. The effect of roughness did little to affect the strength values (for both surfaces of the composite). The adhesive used in this research was very good at wetting the surface, regardless of the roughness. However, when the adhesive was able to wet the surface, the relationship between bond strength and surface free energy was unclear. Plasma was shown to increase levels of oxygen at the surface and reduce/eliminate the concentration of fluorine at the surface on the bag side of the composite.
Supervisor: Mares, C. ; Gatto, A. ; Kellar, E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mechanical pre-treatment ; Atmospheric pressure plasma ; Bond line thickness ; Lap shear strength ; Manual abrasion