Creep behaviour of steel bonded joints under hygrothermal conditions

Chantal de Zeeuw*, Sofia Teixeira de Freitas, Dimitrios Zarouchas, Markus Schilling, Romina Lopes Fernandes, Pedro Dolabella Portella, Ute Niebergall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this research is to study the influence of moisture absorption at low moisture contents on the creep behaviour of an epoxy adhesive in steel bonded joints. Single lap joints were manufactured using high strength steel adherends and a two-component epoxy adhesive. The single lap joints were tested at load levels corresponding to average lap shear stresses of ± 5%, 15%, 30% and 45% of the dry lap shear strength in both 40 °C air and 40 °C distilled water. Specimens were not pre-aged to be able to analyse the coupled effect of moisture and loading. The test results show that an increase in the load level resulted in an increase in the instantaneous strain and in the creep strain rate. The creep strain of single lap joints loaded in water was generally larger than for the ones loaded in air. For joints loaded in water the creep behaviour was found to be dependent on the moisture concentration in the adhesive. At low moisture percentages creep was suppressed, resulting in a lower instantaneous strain. At higher moisture percentages creep was promoted, resulting in a larger strain rate. The suppression of creep at low moisture percentages is attributed to water molecules bonding to the epoxy macromolecules, resulting in a reduction in molecular mobility and a smaller creep strain. At higher moisture percentages the plasticizing effect of the water dominates, resulting in a larger creep strain. The Maxwell three-element solid model and Kelvin-Voigt three-element solid model were used to simulate the creep behaviour of the single lap joints loaded in air and water. The models gave good representations of the creep response across the different load levels in both water and air, they were however unable to give a correct representation of the instantaneous strain of the single lap joints loaded in water. This is attributed to the models being unable to account for the present short-term relaxation process that is dependent on the moisture concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • C. lap-shear
  • D. aging
  • D. creep D. viscoelasticity
  • hygrothermal
  • viscoelastic model


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