On the influence of overlap topology on the tensile strength of composite bonded joints: Single overlap versus overlap stacking

J. Kupski*, S. Teixeira de Freitas, D. Zarouchas, R. Benedictus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


The goal of this study is to explore new topologies for adhesively bonded composite overlap joints in order to improve their strength under tensile loading. Multiple stacked overlaps, also referred as finger joints, are compared with single overlap topologies. The quasi-static tensile behaviour of single lap joints with two overlap lengths 12.7 mm and 25.4 mm are compared to finger joints with 1 and 2 stacked overlaps through thickness with constant 12.7 mm overlap length. Two composite adherend stacking sequences are tested for each topology [0/90]4s and [90/0]4s. A non-linear FE-analysis is performed to analyse the shear and peel stresses along the adhesive bond line. A difference in peak shear and peel stress, at the tip of the bonded region could be observed: (i) for 1 finger, the peak peel stress is higher than in the single lap joint configurations because the beneficial effect of avoiding eccentricity in the finger joint is outperformed by the detrimental effect of reducing to half the adherend stiffness at the overlap; (ii) for 2 fingers, the stress field changes significantly leads to a 23% decrease in peak shear and 33% in peak peel stress, compared to the single lap joint topologies. In addition, experimental lap shear tests are performed and monitored using acoustic emission technique, to follow the damage events. Different trends at damage initation and at maximum load are believed to result from how the damage propagates inside the joint. A topology with 2 fingers and layup [90/0]4s, which fails entirely inside the adherend, provides the lowest peak shear and peel stress and the highest load at damage initiation. It is however outperformed in maximum load by a single lap joint topology with layup [0/90]4s, with mostly cohesive failure. It is further found that, unlike in single overlap topologies, the most dominant stress component for damage initiation inside the finger joints is the in-plane tensile stress, at the butt joint resin pockets, rather than peel stresses at the overlap region. Lastly, if weight efficiency is the main requirement, a finger joint design can effectively replace a single overlap joint design. However, for absolute maximum joint strength, the single overlap joint is a better choice than the finger joint.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102696
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Adhesive bonding
  • Composite joints
  • Finger joints
  • Joint topology
  • ply interleaving technique


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