Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Thomas Fronk


The use and implementation of adhesive joints for space structures is necessary for incorporating fiber-reinforced composite materials. Correct modeling and design of cylindrical adhesive joints can increase the dimensional stability of space structures. The few analytical models for cylindrical adhesive joints do not fully describe the displacement or stress field of the joint.

A two-dimensional axisymmetric finite element model for the design and analysis of adhesive joints was developed. The model was developed solely for the analysis of cylindrical adhesive joints, but the energy techniques used to develop the model can be applied to other types of joints as well. A numerical program was written to solve the system of equations [K]{d}={R} for the unknown displacements {d}. The displacements found from the program are used to design cylindrical adhesive joints based on dimensional stability. Stresses were calculated from the displacements for comparison with analytical models. The cylindrical joints were assumed to remain within the linear elastic region and no failure criteria was taken into account.

The design process for cylindrical joints was developed based on dimensional stability. The nodal displacements found from the finite element model were used in the optimization of geometric parameters of cylindrical joints. The stacking sequence of the composite, the bond length, and the bond thickness were found to have the greatest impact on dimensional stability. Other factors that were found to further reduce the maximum displacements are the implementation of 0° and 90° laminas, the isotropic cylinder thickness, tapering of the isotropic cylinder, and the inside radius of the cylindrical joint.

This axisymmetric finite element model is beneficial in that a cylindrical joint can be designed before any testing is performed. The results and cases in this thesis are generalized in order to show how the design process works. The model can be used in conjunction with design requirements for a specific joint to reduce the maximum displacements below any specified operating requirements. The joint is dimensionally stable if the overall displacements meet specific design requirements.


This work made publicly available electronically on November 29, 2010.